JPM 2022: Centene Executives Boast Strong Masters Enrollment Period, Though Work Remains On All-Star Scores

Centene executives said Monday the company is confident about its position in the competitive and crowded Medicare Advantage market after the annual registration period ends.

The company has seen substantial growth in the past two years after closing its acquisition of WellCare Health Plans in January 2020, executives said during Centene’s presentation at the JP Morgan Healthcare conference. CFO Drew Asher said in the session that he has seen almost 50% growth in this market over the past two years.

He said the insurer has been able to drive this growth through an expanded portfolio of offerings as well as geographic and network expansions.

“With each passing year, you further refine that and get the benefits of this merger,” Asher said.

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The merger between Centene and WellCare Health Plans created the nation’s largest public insurance sponsor, with massive reach in the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid trade.

The company has also invested heavily in rebranding its disparate MA plans to align them across the portfolio and recruited new Seniors Outreach Ambassadors. Even before the merger, Centene was working on its digital distribution channels to improve the experience.

“I think there are a lot of executions that we can feel good about,” Asher said.

That said, he noted some areas of improvement in MA for Centene. On the one hand, the company is working on improving its star rating. More than half of its members have chosen a four-star or higher plan for 2022.

Asher said the improvement efforts the company is undertaking now will pay off in improving star ratings across the board. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services use three years of data to calculate their scores.

“We’re going to hit our stride with what we’re going to do this year,” Asher said. “It will have an impact on those star scores.”

Maria D. Ervin