Opinion: Skyrocketing salaries for health insurance CEOs

Former CIGNA executive-turned-whistleblower Wendell Potter is writing about the health care industry and the ongoing battle for health reform for the Center for Public Integrity.

If health insurance companies announce big premium increases on policies for 2015, I hope regulators, lawmakers and the media will look closely at whether they are justified, especially in light of recent disclosures of better-than-expected profits in 2013, rosy outlooks for the rest of this year, and soaring CEO compensation.

Almost all of the publicly traded health insurers reported big increases in revenue and profits last year. The big winners have been the top executives of those companies, led by Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna, the nation’s third largest health insurer. Bertolini’s total compensation of $30.7 million in 2013 was 131 percent higher than in 2012.

If the stock prices of these firms keep growing at the current pace, Bertolini and his peers can expect to be rewarded even more handsomely this year, especially if they can hike premiums high enough to satisfy shareholders.

According to Health Plan Week, a trade publication, the CEOs of the 11 largest for-profit companies were rewarded with compensation packages last year totaling more than $125 million.

See the complete story at CT News Junkie.


5 responses to “Opinion: Skyrocketing salaries for health insurance CEOs”

  1. EveT

    I hope Peter I. Berman will write a strongly worded editorial decrying THESE overpaid workers.

  2. Don’t Panic

    Well said!

  3. One and Done.

    The headline is misleading. Total compensation is different from salary. Most of the payout is in stock options. The worst part is that these conversions to equity are taxed at the current capital gains rate of 20%.
    The average middle class family is in the 25% marginal tax bracket.
    But don’t look for tax reform, our Senators Blumenthal, Murphy and the Washington DC representative who lives in Greenwich (rhymes with crimes) have all voted for higher taxes and more loopholes for their financiers such as these insurance company execs.
    Oh, how could I forget Governor Malloy’s payoffs to Cigna with our tax dollars. Part of CIGNAs CEOs salary was paid for by our tax dollars, which is why you are seeing this attack on Aetna who received none of our tax dollars in the First Five program.

  4. piberman

    Big salaries in the health/insurance industry are old news. Even our local Norwalk Hospital has high paid physician administrators – half mil plus last time I looked. Every year Investment News tabulates top pay for NY area hospital CEOs. Multimillion dollar salaries are not uncommon for “running” major hospitals. Readers of Philanthropy News can digest multi million dollsr salaries paid out in the “charity business”. Even college presidents are in the million dollar sweep dtakes. Its all the rage for health, medicine, insurance, non – profits, museums, colleges, religious bodies, etc.

    Of course the insurance companies will make out like bandits with Obamacare. Without their co-operation Obamacare wouldn’t get off the ground. So what’s the beef ? Despite all the medical/insurance million dollar salaries the US had the very best medical care anywhere. Provided you can afford it. That’s the rub -affordability. God bless medicare – saves so many lives its a gift from heaven paid for by everyone. Almost.

    Now if you want to get excited chew on this – the average Federal worker reportedly makes $125,000. Even Norwalk can’t match that. But we’re getting close. But the UCON folks take the prize. Some years ago the Yankee Institute discovered a UCON prof taking home a $250,000 annual pension. Our public/charity sector is the New Frontier for fancy salaries “serving the public”. Isn’t it wonderful.

    Some folks think our Legislators are overpaid earning about $30k annually with benefits.

  5. Suzanne

    Healthcare has been rationed in this country for years: if you can afford a good health insurance plan, you get medical care. If you can’t, all of those options allowed others will not be yours. Likewise to Mr. Berman’s comments: a CEO of a popular healthcare plan in California, during the managed healthcare crisis when benefits were being cut to patients right and left with the for-profit model of healthcare taking hold, rode up to a board meeting in a chauffeur driven limo. He was advised to drive himself to the next meeting as the topic on the agenda was how much his company was NOT going to pay out in benefits to patients that year. Old news? You bet!

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