Single-payer advocate reports pay increases for many health carrier CEOs in 2013


According to research published by a single-payer advocacy group, average compensation for nine CEOs at large health insurance companies rose by more than 19% in 2013, with some chief executives seeing steep increases in pay, while others received less remuneration.

Healthcare-NOW!, a non-profit that says its goal of single-payer health coverage is also known as “improved Medicare for all,” analyzed recent financial reports of the Fortune 500 health insurance carriers.

According to Healthcare-NOW!, the highest compensation increase went to Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, who received a $30.7 million compensation package in 2013. The Bertolini pay package, which included a large “special one-time performance-based retention award,” represented a 131% increase over his $13.3 million compensation in 2012.

Benjamin Day

Benjamin Day

Molina Healthcare and Centene, insurers that specialize in privately managed Medicaid plans, roughly doubled CEO compensation in 2013. J. Mario Molina received $11.9 million, up from $5 million in 2012, while Centene’s CEO Michael Neidorff made $14.5 million, up from $8.5 million.

Overall, average CEO pay across Fortune 500 health insurers rose from $11.6 million in 2012 to $13.9 million in 2013.

Healthcare-NOW! noted that reports of higher pay for some CEOs coincided with several of the same companies announcing better-than-expected earnings in the first quarter of 2014, even as they signaled increased insurance premiums in 2015.

“Families and patients are being asked to tighten their belts in the face of rising healthcare costs, while our premiums are being used to subsidize even more astronomical compensation for the already wealthy,” said Benjamin Day, director of organizing at Healthcare-NOW!.

CEO pay at leading health insurance carriers in 2012 and 2013.

CEO pay at leading health insurance carriers in 2012 and 2013.

“In contrast, the top administrator of Medicare – our public, universal health plan for all seniors, which is more efficient, provides better financial protection, and receives higher marks from patients than private health insurers – is paid less than $200,000 per year,” Day said. “The culture of excess at these for-profit corporations is incompatible with the goals of an efficient, ethical health care system, where every dollar diverted from patient care represents a loss of access for real families.”

Day said that the U.S. has the highest healthcare costs and among the worst health coutcomes of any country in the developed world, due to private health insurers and intermediaries acting as for-profit middlemen in the health care system.

“Although many backers of the Affordable Care Act said it would rein in insurance company excesses, the law clearly hasn’t curtailed top executive pay,” Day said.

Day went on to say that a “Medicare-for-All program would lower costs by spending every available dollar on patient care, and making access to care an inalienable right for everyone in the United States.”

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