Centene finished a strong 2018 with an even stronger final quarter, as revenues, membership, and earnings per share increased.
The St. Louis-based insurer was bolstered by its managed care membership reaching 14 million, an increase of 15% year-over-year, and growth among three additional membership categories: dual-eligible enrollees, those on the health insurance marketplace, and Medicaid expansion enrollees.
Centene reported an adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of $4.52 per share for 2018, an increase of 40% compared to 2017. As a result of impressive financials for both Q4 and 2018 as a whole, Centene leadership have raised the company's annual guidance, anticipating total revenues between $70.3 billion and $71.1 billion in 2019.
"We were pleased with the strong fourth quarter performance to finish another successful year," Michael Neidorff, CEO of Centene, said in a statement. "Our 2018 Adjusted Diluted EPS results were 40% higher than 2017. Looking ahead, the higher than expected membership growth in the Health Insurance Marketplace business, new contract wins and other strategic investments provide operating momentum heading into 2019."
Despite the mostly positive metrics, Centene did record a negative cash flow of $634 million for Q4 due to paying the 2018 health insurer fee and $370 million in Medicaid expansion minimum medical loss ratio (MLR) rebate payments in California.
Similar to its competitor WellCare Health Plans, Centene was awarded, along with four other healthcare organizations, an 'unprecedented' $6 billion worth of privatized Medicaid contracts by the state of North Carolina.
The highlight of 2018 for Centene was its $3.75 billion purchase of Fidelis Care from the Archdiocese of New York. As previously reported in HealthLeaders, Centene's entrance into the Empire State market is expected to generate more than $11 billion in revenue.
Internally, Centene will distribute a two-for-one split of its stock in the form of a 100% dividend on February 6.
Additional Centene Q4 earnings report highlights:
Centene's net earnings for Q4 2018 were $241 million, an increase of $11 million year-over-year.
For yet another quarter, the insurer's Medicaid and Medicare revenues eclipsed those of 2017.
Medicaid revenues rose 28% while Medicare revenues rose 27%.
Commercial revenues again led the way with 47% growth year-over-year.
For complete financial information, review Centene's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Jack O'Brien is the finance editor at HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.
Photo credit: Milan, Italy - August 10, 2017: Centene logo on the website homepage. - Image / Editorial credit: Casimiro PT / Shutterstock.com
2018 was a strong year for the St. Louis-based insurer, finishing with more than $60.1 billion in revenues.
Managed care membership reached 14 million, an increase of 15% year-over-year.
Centene did record a negative cash flow of $634 million for Q4 due to paying the 2018 health insurer fee and $370 million in MLR rebate payments in California.