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Centene CEO Michael Neidorff. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Michael Neidorff, CEO of health insurance company Centene, made almost $59 million in 2020, according to calculations from the company's preliminary financial documents. That amount was roughly 1.5 times more than what Neidorff made in 2019.

The bottom line: Neidorff's compensation is an early sign of how corporate executives, especially those in health care, reaped large, stock-heavy paydays during the coronavirus pandemic, despite the broader economic turmoil.

Between the lines: Health insurers' bottom lines swelled during the first half of 2020. Many people deferred care to avoid catching the virus, and hospitals and doctors also canceled procedures and appointments out of caution.

  • More people started returning to hospitals and doctors later in the year, muting some of the excess profits that insurers had been retaining.

Zoom in: The stock price of Centene — which gets almost all of its revenue from taxpayer-funded health care programs — fell 6% in 2020, but the company still collected $1.8 billion of profit, up 37% from 2019.

  • Almost 90% of Neidorff's pay package, or $52 million, came from exercised stock. We calculated that figure based on the actual realized gains of his stock.
  • Centene just laid off 3,000 employees, or about 6% of its workforce, in an effort to increase profits, Neidorff told Wall Street analysts in February.
  • A Centene spokesperson said Neidorff's realized stock value reflects stock "that was granted in years prior to the pandemic," and that laid-off employees are receiving job counseling, health insurance subsidies and severance.

Update: This story was updated with comments from Centene.

Go deeper

Mar 4, 2021 - Technology

Virtual doctor's visits and digital health tools take off in pandemic

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Telemedicine and other health-related technologies have gotten huge boosts over the past year as COVID-19 upended how patients receive medical attention.

Why it matters: Virtual doctor's appointments and therapy sessions will likely be the norm, even after more people are vaccinated.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will not seek re-election in 2022

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) speaking during a press conference in November 2021. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), a moderate who typically ranks as one of the nation's most popular governors, said Wednesday that he and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito (R) will not seek third terms in 2022.

Why it matters: The decision leaves the gubernatorial race wide open and will likely affect multiple down-ballot races next year. Baker was expected to be the front-runner had he joined the race.

3 hours ago - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.