Michael F. Neidorff, 79, dies; His company was an Obamacare stalwart

When state officials and government regulators were concerned that some counties across the United States would be left without an insurer willing to sell insurance under the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Neidorff agreed to provide coverage on some of these markets, said Jesse Hunter, a former chief strategy officer at Centene, and “there was never a hesitation.”

“We want to help where we can,” Mr. Neidorff told The New York Times in 2017.

He was born in 1942 in Altoona, Pennsylvania to A. Harvey Neidoff, a physician, and Shirley Rubin Neidoff, a nurse. He had considered going into medicine but instead decided to major in political science at Trinity University in San Antonio. He then earned a master’s degree from Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania.

He is survived by his wife, Noémi; her brother, Robert; his sister, Susan Neidorff Reinglass; and his son, Peter. His daughter, Monica Neidorff, died in 2021.

Mr. Neidorff had worked for a unit of UnitedHealthcare when he was recruited to be managing director of Coordinated Care, the small managed care company that would become Centene. “It was obvious they needed a complete change,” said Robert Ditmore, a longtime Centene board member who was involved in the business.

Mr. Neidorff has aggressively expanded into the Medicaid market, despite concerns about the success of that venture. “I had questions about Medicaid; Is it going to work?” said Mr. Ditmore. But, he added, Mr. Neidorff persuaded him: “It was obviously a big deal, so we said let’s go.”

Mr. Neidorff took the company public in 2001. In 2016, he acquired a California insurer, Health Net, which offered private plans for another government program, Medicare.

When the Affordable Care Act made it possible to sell private insurance at low prices in state markets set up by the federal government, Ditmore recalled, Mr. Neidorff was eager to become a major player, despite the uncertainty about how insurers should price their policies in the new market. “He kept pushing for it,” Mr. Ditmore said. “It was a bulldog with a bone in its mouth.”