Top Insurance CEOs Took Home $335 Million Last Year, Fueled by Stock Buybacks

America’ healthcare system is the worst in the developed world, delivering the best demise charges for treatable circumstances, the best toddler and maternal mortality charges, and the bottom life expectancy at start.

However a system that’s failing sufferers, often in catastrophic ways, has been a large boon for the executives who run the few private companies that dominate the nation’s healthcare sector.

Final 12 months, the CEOs of CVS Well being, UnitedHealth Group, Cigna, Elevance Well being, Centene, Humana, and Molina Healthcare — the highest seven publicly traded medical insurance giants within the U.S. — introduced in a mixed $335 million in compensation, STAT just lately reported.

The outlet emphasised that “high-flying inventory costs once more fueled a overwhelming majority of the good points,” which mark a brand new report. Joseph Zubretsky, the CEO of Molina Healthcare — an organization whose income comes solely from taxpayer-funded packages comparable to Medicaid — took dwelling a staggering $181 million in 2022.

As former Cigna govt Wendell Potter noted Tuesday, “these medical insurance CEOs have been so profitable not as a result of they’ve improved the well being and well-being of Individuals, however fairly as a result of they’ve sustained monetary returns for Wall Road traders.”

“Not a lot has modified in how insurer CEOs are compensated since I left Cigna in 2008. Besides they’re making far more,” wrote Potter, who’s now the manager director of the Heart for Well being and Democracy.

In a new analysis of the most recent CEO pay figures, Potter noticed that “had it not been for his or her corporations’ share buybacks” — which assist increase the worth of their inventory by lowering the variety of shares excellent — “they wouldn’t have banked practically that a lot cash.”

“My evaluation of how a lot the businesses have used our premiums and tax {dollars} to purchase again shares of their very own inventory confirmed that mixed they spent $141 billion on share repurchases between 2007 and 2022,” Potter wrote. “Remember the fact that that’s $141 billion that in any other case may have been used to cut back our premiums and deductibles–and maintain an untold variety of American households out of chapter and away from GoFundMe–however was used as an alternative to extend the wealth of their shareholders and high executives.”

Potter argued that the CEOs’ exorbitant pay packages are “particularly alarming when you think about that they’re getting an increasing number of of it from us as taxpayers” as tens of hundreds of thousands of Individuals go with out insurance coverage, wrestle to afford their prescription medicines, and drown in medical debt.

In an analysis launched earlier this 12 months, Potter estimated that authorities packages are the supply of round 90% of the well being plan revenues of Molina, Humana, and Centene.

Centene CEO Sarah London introduced in additional than $13 million in complete compensation final 12 months, and Humana chief Bruce Broussard took dwelling greater than $17 million. Each corporations are main suppliers of Medicare Benefit — a privately run, publicly funded, and fraud-ridden program that may be a growing source of insurance coverage firm revenues.

“Maintain all of this in thoughts the subsequent time you go to the pharmacy counter and are advised that even with insurance coverage you’ll should pay a king’s ransom on your meds as a result of your insurer—by means of its pharmacy profit supervisor (PBM) — has as soon as once more jacked up your out-of-pocket requirement,” Potter wrote. “Or the subsequent time you discover how a lot has been deducted out of your paycheck on your medical insurance–and Uncle Sam.”

Recent outrage over the pay of insurance coverage business CEOs, which surged in the course of the coronavirus pandemic as hundreds of thousands misplaced well being protection and received sick, comes amid a renewed Medicare for All push in Congress.

Final month, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and others reintroduced Medicare for All laws in each chambers, with extra co-sponsors than ever earlier than — although the invoice has no probability of passing the divided Congress.

The laws would nearly get rid of non-public medical insurance and supply complete care to all without spending a dime on the level of service, a transformative change that will seemingly save tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars annually.

“In America, your well being and your longevity shouldn’t be dependent in your checking account or your inventory portfolio,” stated Sanders. “After all of the lives that we misplaced to this horrible pandemic, it’s clearer now, maybe greater than it has ever been earlier than, that we should act to finish the worldwide embarrassment of america being the one main nation on earth to not assure healthcare to all.”

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