On Tuesday, Gov. Brian Sandoval announced that the Missouri-based Centene Corporation, also known as SilverSummit in Nevada, will be offering health insurance coverage to all Nevada residents, including those living in rural Nevada, on the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange. The Exchange is Nevada’s state agency that helps individuals obtain budget-appropriate health coverage through the online marketplace, Nevada Health Link. This is a state-based online marketplace, supported by healthcare.gov, allowing Nevadans to shop for health insurance and providing federal tax credits and subsidies to help cover the cost of insurance for those who qualify.
Earlier this month, the Division of Insurance announced that 14 of Nevada’s 17 counties would be without an Exchange health insurance option, which would have left 8,000 consumers in these counties without access to Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) and federal subsidies, beginning in Jan. 2018.
“Access to quality, affordable healthcare should not be dependent on your ZIP code or county line. Today’s announcement will ensure that more than 8,000 Nevadans will have the ability to exercise their option to utilize Nevada’s online marketplace and secure coverage for their families,” Sandoval said. “This is a fantastic time to welcome SilverSummit to our healthcare market and express the state’s sincere gratitude for stepping up, partnering with Nevada’s own Hometown Health, and providing an insurance option for thousands of Nevadans.”
Centene’s updated rates for Nevada have yet to be announced. Threats from the Trump Administration to cut off payments to insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act are causing uncertainty in the market. The Congressional Budget Office reported that such an action would cause rates to rise about 20 percent next year and 25 percent by 2020. This would trigger an increase in tax-funded subsidies paid, costing taxpayers about $194 billion over 10 years.
The bare counties’ crisis was created when existing insurance carriers Prominence and Anthem, both of which provided plans on the Exchange to rural counties, provided notice that they would pull out of the Exchange market entirely beginning in 2018, citing market uncertainty. Since that announcement, state officials have worked to secure a carrier to provide an insurance option to the more than 8,000 rural Nevadans who depend on the Exchange for their insurance coverage. There are currently two insurance carriers planning to offer insurance options on the Exchange Health Plan of Nevada and SilverSummit.
SilverSummit is the only carrier at this time who will provide an insurance option in all of Nevada’s 17 counties. Health Plan of Nevada will provide an insurance option in Nye, Clark, and Washoe Counties.
“We are grateful that SilverSummit has stepped up to the plate, offering relief to thousands of residents who thought they would be deprived of access to health insurance,” said Heather Korbulic, executive director of the Exchange. “Thanks to Governor Sandoval’s tireless and unwavering commitment to ensuring access to health care for all Nevadans, individuals throughout the state will have access to qualified health plans.”
This is not the first time Centene has provided coverage in states where insurance carriers have left the marketplace due to uncertainty surrounding the administration’s objective to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. In Missouri, Centene offers plans in 25 counties that were slated to have no insurers on its exchange in 2018.
“We appreciate that such an experienced insurance carrier will be joining the Nevada Exchange,” said Barbara D. Richardson, Nevada insurance commissioner. “The Division continues to work with our state partners to explore long-term solutions for Nevada citizens.”