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How Centene is moving to bolster health market, drive down prices

Anjalee Khemlani
Senior Reporter

Centene (CNC), one of the largest health insurers in the country, is working on several initiatives to help create a more robust market.

CEO Michael Neidorff told Yahoo Finance that the company is advocating for changes to drive down the costs of care, and make payment systems more efficient.

A big piece of solving that puzzle is technology and innovation, particularly in the medical device and diagnostics space.

“Technology, in every industry, comes through when costs get out of control,” Neidorff said at the annual JP Morgan health care event in San Francisco. That emphasis differs from the industry’s traditional focus on services.

That includes artificial intelligence, where Centene is working with other companies to ensure claims payments and bill payments are handled more efficiently.

Centene Corporation chairman, president and CEO and National Urban League chair Michael Neidorff speaks at the National Urban League's conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida July 31,2015.REUTERS/Andrew Innerarity

It’s all in the hopes of creating a more sustainable health care environment, Neidorff has been advocating for changes to the Affordable Care Act that boost subsidies and grow the individual insurance market.

In addition, “we would like to see Medicaid [eligibility] drop from 138% of the federal poverty limit to 100%,” he told Yahoo Finance. Centene is one of the largest providers of Medicaid, and is boosting its Medicare presence through a merger with WellCare that will likely close this year and boost revenues.

Centene announced its 2020 guidance last month, with total expected revenues between $78.6 to $79.4 billion.

The company also estimated its health benefits spend, a ratio of the premium dollars received, to check in about 86%. Most health plans target the 80% range as a healthy margin.