One Insurer Leaves, Another Enters Maricopa County's Healthcare Exchange

By Will Stone
Published: Thursday, September 15, 2016 - 2:36pm
Updated: Thursday, September 15, 2016 - 2:37pm
(Courtesy of Healthcare.gov)
More than 120,000 Arizonans used the Marketplace to get insurance last year.

Insurers continue to enter and exit the healthcare exchange for Arizona's most populous county less than two months before open enrollment.

On Wednesday, Centene, a St. Louis-based company, announced it would enter the federally run marketplace for 2017. The next day, Cigna, which was expected to be the only insurer in Maricopa County, decided to pull out of the exchange, but would partner with Centene by opening up its network of providers. In other words, Centene policyholders will now have access to more doctors.

According to a Centene press release, the company will be offering HMO plans in both Maricopa and Pima counties. It expects to bring in $500 million in revenue as a result.

The number of insurers in Arizona has been dwindling. So far, 14 of the state's 15 counties have only one insurer on the exchange. Last year, Maricopa County had eight.

The department of insurance has said it will be as "flexible" as possible to provide options for the pool of more than 120,000 people enrolled in Maricopa County, but the state is limited because the marketplace is federally run.

In response to the news, Republican Sen. John McCain said he is "concerned about the uncertainty" in the marketplace and that "there is no guarantee Arizonans will be able to keep their current plans or physicians or obtain similar plans at the same rates."

McCain has introduced legislation that would allow people living in a county with only one provider or none to avoid the individual mandate penalty.

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