Founded a quarter-century ago, Centene Corp. offers health plans in 10 states and a variety of specialty services that have collectively brought tenfold growth in the past eight years.
Fostering a culture of ideas
Centene Corp. enjoys period of rapid growth
In 2001, Centene chugged along with 300 employees and $300 million in annual revenue. But the company has accelerated its pace and now boasts a workforce of 3,800, after adding 917 jobs in the past fiscal year—and revenue of $3.4 billion, up more than 12% in the past year alone.
“That's significant growth, especially in this environment,” says Carol Goldman, executive vice president and chief administrative officer for the St. Louis-based insurer, which ranked at the top in the payers category of Modern Healthcare's second annual Best Places to Work in Healthcare, and No. 61 overall.
“We have been very fortunate that we are in a hiring mode,” Goldman says. “We have not done any layoffs or downsizing; we've also been very fortunate there.”
Centene's Medicaid managed-care line offers locally based health insurance plans that serve patients on government-subsidized programs like supplemental security income and the State Children's Health Insurance Program in addition to Medicaid. The company also has a statewide contract with Texas to provide health insurance to children in foster care. The company's specialty services line provides benefits like behavioral health, life and health management, vision, telehealth and pharmacy benefits management. Centene targets the uninsured through a subsidiary.
The company works hard to attract and retain talent, Goldman says. “We have a very competitive benefit package and program,” she says. “We have a lot of things in place that incentivize folks to come here and stay here. Bonuses go throughout the organization. We have very rich benefit programs. We have educational reimbursement programs that are very competitive.”
The company pays exempt employees an average of $77,915 and nonexempt an average of $32,383, with medical coverage split between employees and employer. Centene pays up to $8,000 for graduate-level and post-graduate courses, $5,000 for undergraduate courses and $2,500 for other courses annually.
Centene has attempted to tailor benefits where possible. For example, internal surveys showed nurses—who handle roles like providing triage and staffing a 24-7 help line—preferred an extra week of vacation vs. stock options that had been offered to all employees.
“We try to look at different things for different people,” Goldman says. “Some of the nurses wanted to be able to do more telecommuting. All jobs don't lend themselves to that, but we were able to do some of that.”
Among the chief incentives Centene has developed are three on-site day-care facilities: at its headquarters in St. Louis; its claims facility in Farmington, Mo.; and another satellite facility in Great Falls, Mont.
Other more unusual on-site offerings include a dry cleaning service, a car wash and an auto maintenance garage. “It's such a hassle to go sit someplace,” Goldman says. “They'll take your car, change your oil.”
Centene employees are encouraged to maintain healthy lifestyles through a “green” cafeteria that subsidizes healthy choices like turkey burgers more than hamburgers, and through screenings and coaching for issues like high blood pressure and diabetes, Goldman says.
“It's encouraging folks to come, be tested, be aware of whatever health issues you have,” Goldman says.
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