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Sarah London (Photo: Centene)

Life Health > Health Insurance > Medicare Planning

Centene Names Venture Capital Veteran CEO

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What You Need to Know

  • Sarah London was named Centene CEO, taking over from Michael Neidorff, who will remain the company's chairman.
  • London spent a year working at Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles. She later worked for the company that produced "E.T."
  • She started in data analytics at Optum and later was a partner in its venture capital arm.

The board of Centene has picked Sarah London — an executive with roots in venture capital and talent management — to succeed Michael Neidorff as the company’s CEO.

The appointment took effect Wednesday.

London has been a Centene executive since 2020. She joined a four-member office of the chairman in February, when Centene announced that Neidorff was taking a leave of absence to deal with a medical condition.

Neidorff was the Clayton, Missouri-based health insurance giant’s chairman as well as its CEO. He continues to be the chairman.

James Dallas, Centene’s acting chairman, said the board sees London as a visionary leader.

“Her strategic thinking, fresh perspective and diverse experience make her the natural leader to harness the potential of Centene,” Dallas said. “I have been consistently impressed by Sarah’s passion to serve our members, who are often the most vulnerable amongst us.”

What It Means

Centene was once a regional health insurer. Neidorff turned it into a national player by competing aggressively for state Medicare contracts.

Since then, the company has become a major force in the commercial health insurance market by acquiring Health Net, a California health insurer; WellCare Health Plans, a big Medicare plans issuer; and Magellan Health, a behavioral health, specialty care and pharmacy benefits manager.

Centene now provides or administers health coverage for about 26 million people. It has $125 billion in annual revenue, and it ranks 26th in the United States in terms of revenue.

Centene’s large size and central role in behavioral care management mean that it could affect what retirement planning clients’ Medicare plans look like, what the plans will cost, and how both working-age and older clients’ plans cover mental health care, behavioral health care and other types of care.

Sarah London

London played Division I tennis at Harvard. She graduated from the school with a bachelor’s degree in literature in 2002.

She spent two years working in film production management, first at Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles, and then at Kennedy/Marshall Co., the company that produced “E.T.”

She later earned an MBA from the University of Chicago.

In 2010, she helped start a health care cost and quality data business for Accretive Health, a medical billing and debt collection company.

She soon moved to Humedica, a data analytics company.

UnitedHealth’s Optum unit acquired Humedica in 2013. London started at Optum as the chief product officer at Optum Analytics.

She served next as a partner at Optum Ventures. While at Optum Ventures, she oversaw investments in companies such as IDx, a startup that uses artificial intelligence to detect diabetic retinopathy, and Apervita, a health care quality data company.

She said about her new role that the health care landscape is changing rapidly.

“Centene’s mission — to transform the health of our communities one member at a time — has never been more relevant,” London said in a statement. “We have a unique opportunity to empower our members, providers, and their communities in this transformation.”

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Sarah London (Photo: Centene)