Obamacare is about to get some much-needed good news

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval will announce that Centene, a low-cost health insurer, will enter the Obamacare markets in 14 rural Nevada counties that previously had no insurer for 2018, according to the Nevada Independent.

The Independent reports Sandoval will make a statement about the decision from a Silver Springs, Nevada hospital at 11 a.m. PT.

The void was created after health insurer Anthem pulled out of the 14 counties on August 7, citing uncertainty surrounding the future of the Obamacare markets.

Tuesday’s decision leaves one county in Wisconsin and one county in Ohio as the only remaining empty counties for next year.

Empty counties are described by health policy experts as the worst-case scenario for Obamacare’s individual insurance markets because there is no back-up plans for empty markets, leaving beneficiaries currently enrolled for 2017 with no coverage options.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health policy think tank, there were 8,048 Obamacare plan selections in 2017 within the 14 counties, meaning 381 people in Ohio and Wisconsin will be without an insurer next year.

Centene is a relative success story in the Obamacare markets, using their slimmed down Medicaid-like plans to net profits in the exchange business. Centene has stepped in to expand its footprint in a variety of states, including filling previously bare counties in Kansas.

Centene’s announcement comes as uncertainty surrounding the 2018 plan year is reaching a fever pitch.

President Donald Trump has contributed to the uncertainty by not committing to follow through on two key parts of Obamacare: subsidizing insurers for providing affordable health insurance to poor people and penalising Americans who do not purchase health insurance. Insurers have made it clear there will be negative consequences for consumers on the exchanges if Trump backs away from either of these obligations.

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