Centene CEO Neidorff raked in nearly $25M last year. Take a look what other insurance execs earned

Insurance CEOs raked in plenty of dough in 2020. Take a look at what the highest-paid executives earned. (venuestock/Getty Images)

Centene CEO Michael Neidorff was the highest-paid chief executive among big national insurers in 2020, edging out 2019's biggest earner, CVS Health's Larry Merlo.

Neidorff earned nearly $25 million in total compensation, and brought in the highest base salary among the six CEOs we analyzed, earning $1.8 million. The data comes from the insurers' annual proxy filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Centene's chief also earned $14.9 million in stock awards and $2.9 million in option awards, according to the filing.

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The median employee salary at Centene in 2020 was $68,987, for a CEO pay ratio of 362:1 at the company, according to the filing.

Merlo topped our compensation list in 2019 but fell to second place in 2020, earning $23 million in total compensation. That includes a $1.6 million salary and $4.1 million in option awards.

Merlo did not earn any compensation through stock awards last year but was the only insurer we analyzed to see a boost through his change in pension or nonqualified compensation earnings, bringing in $11.9 million.

The longtime chief executive at CVS retired on Feb. 1 of this year, with Aetna president Karen Lynch stepping into the CEO role as his successor.

The median salary for employees at the healthcare giant was $55,716 last year, for a ratio of 414:1 with Merlo, according to the proxy.

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The remaining CEOs we analyzed were clustered more closely together in total compensation, according to the filings. Cigna CEO David Cordani earned $19.9 million, including a $1.5 million salary and $11.1 million in stock awards.

He also earned $3.5 million in option awards. The CEO pay ratio at Cigna was 304.17:1 in 2020, with a median employee salary of $65,520.

UnitedHealth Group CEO David Wichmann brought in $17.9 million in total compensation for 2020, according to the filings. His base salary was $1.4 million and he also earned $9.6 million in stock awards and $3.2 million in option awards.

Wichmann also retired this year, stepping down from the CEO role in February. Optum CEO Andrew Witty took over as chief executive of UHG.

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The median employee salary at UnitedHealth Group was $55,656 last year, for a pay ratio of 321:1.

Anthem CEO Gail Boudreaux was close behind Wichmann on our list, earning $17.1 million in total compensation. She earned a $1.4 million salary last year, as well as $9 million in stock awards and nearly $3 million in option awards.

The CEO pay ratio was 278:1 to one, with a median Anthem employee salary of $61,544.

Bruce Broussard, CEO of Humana, comes in at sixth place on our list, bringing in $16.5 million in total compensation last year. That includes a $1.3 million salary as well as $8.5 million in stock awards and $2.8 million in option awards.

The median employee salary at Humana in 2020 was $62,872 for a 262:1 pay ratio.