Because the pandemic raged, CEO earnings surged

HPrime well being care executives have sat comfortably atop their perch within the second 12 months of the pandemic, cushioned greater than ever by the rising fortunes of their shareholder base.

The CEOs of about 300 healthcare corporations collectively took dwelling greater than $4.5 billion in 2021, in keeping with a STAT evaluation of a whole lot of economic paperwork. Regeneron Prescription drugs CEO Leonard Schleifer alone accounted for 10% of that whole, raking in an unbelievable $453 million.

Though $4.5 trillion is simply 0.1% of America’s $4.3 trillion healthcare economic system, it nonetheless represents a considerable amount of wealth for a small govt class that wields management and massive affect on the well being system. Lavish salaries — which have ballooned over time as income and inventory costs have soared — outpace the typical annual family revenue by about $67,000, in addition to the relatively high salaries of the premise of well being care. And whereas greater than 100 CEOs earned eight-figure salaries final 12 months, the healthcare system has pushed thousands and thousands to medical debtprompted sufferers to ration medication and devoured extra of everybody’s paychecks.


“Well being care has turn into huge enterprise,” stated Drew Altman, CEO of the Kaiser Household Basis. “We’ve got lots of people making some huge cash in well being care, and we nonetheless have an affordability disaster in well being care.”

For context, that $4.5 billion is seven instances what the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention has needed to spend to review, monitor, and handle. emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases in 2021, a 12 months through which America approached 1 million cumulative deaths attributable to Covid-19. It is also sufficient cash to cowl the 12 months health insurance of about 580,000 folks.

In different phrases, this quantity is greater than double the quantity of all pizza gross sales and different international income that has handed by Papa John’s pizza chain Final 12 months. That is nearly sufficient cash to buy the Denver Broncos and greater than sufficient cash to bid on the Cedars Fair chain of amusement parks and motels.


J. Emory Parker/STAT
Sources: STAT evaluation of SEC filings, US Census Bureau, St. Louis Federal Reserve, Tesla, Guardian Jet, Apple, Inc., School Board

“The well being care system is not working in addition to it might or ought to for most individuals,” stated Katie Martin, president of the Well being Care Value Institute and former federal well being official. “Does this compensation construction incentivize these folks to make the system work higher, or does it incentivize them to maintain the system the identical – to make it work the best way it does now?”

STAT analyzed govt compensation discovered within the annual proxy filings of practically 300 corporations throughout all healthcare sectors – drug manufacturers, health insurers, hospitals, other providers, medical device companies, health technology companies, biotechnologies, suppliers, and many others. The evaluation targeted on corporations that had been price at the very least $1 billion in mid-March, based mostly on knowledge from markets and monetary database suppliers Sentieo and FinViz.

The information revealed nuances inside every trade: The best-paid CEOs typically ran pharmaceutical corporations and medical machine corporations, all of which develop new merchandise and construct their companies round government-granted patents. CEOs of biotechnology and medical machine start-ups had comparatively smaller pay packages, as their huge salaries typically come when huge corporations purchase them out.

Well being insurers, hospitals and different suppliers hit huge paydays for senior executives, however the ranges had been extra variable and had been bigger at extra established corporations. Most, however not all, health-tech CEOs weren’t among the many high earners as a result of their corporations are nonetheless new to the general public markets and in consequence their shares have had much less time to develop. Alongside the identical strains, CEOs who’ve been with their corporations for a very long time obtained a number of the greatest payouts.

A indisputable fact that has not modified: ladies seldom sit within the nook workplace, and once they do, they earn much less. Ladies made up lower than 10% of healthcare CEOs, and the best paid was Staar Surgical’s Caren Mason, who earned $37.3 million – thirty second highest within the evaluation. Of the 100 highest paid CEOs, solely six had been ladies.

Healthcare CEOs earned a median of $15.3 million final 12 months, whereas the median was round $7 million. A number of disproportionately excessive compensation packages skewed the averages: 29 CEOs, all males, earned over $40 million or extra.

Wages represented lower than 6% of wage. Helmy Eltoukhy, co-CEO of liquid biopsy firm Guardant Well being, for instance, took a wage of simply $1. Vivek Garipalli, CEO of well being insurer Clover Well being, didn’t take a wage. As a substitute, the majority of govt compensation got here from fairness. Over 80% of the group’s total compensation got here from inventory and possibility awards, reflecting the colossal stock market gains in 2021.

Inventory costs rise when earnings and income development are anticipated, so tying a big portion of an individual’s wage to shares additionally reveals the long-standing incentives of the well being care system: promoting extra medication, open extra amenities, carry out extra procedures, undertake extra expertise, doc extra medical codes, increase extra costs, conduct extra mergers – do After, and also you earn extra.

“There’s simply lots of proof of misplaced priorities and incentives,” stated Katherine Hempstead, well being coverage professional on the Robert Wooden Johnson Basis. “Though well being care is closely regulated, it isn’t regulated in a manner that forestalls corporations from doing all these items that do not actually appear to be within the public curiosity, whether or not it is excessive pay for the CEO or completely different sorts of anti-competitive habits or video games or completely different sorts of rent-seeking actions.

To calculate the precise amount of cash an govt has accrued in 2021, STAT reporters manually entered info from proxy deposits into an open-source tool developed by the Related Press. The totals included salaries, bonuses, advantages and precise good points made on govt inventory awards and choices — not the estimated truthful worth of shares given out in a given 12 months.

Executives typically obtain shares — or the flexibility to purchase shares — as a part of their compensation, and firms are required to estimate the worth of these shares or choices. That is what’s most frequently reported. However the amount of cash that executives finally obtain from the train of vested inventory awards and inventory choices, generally known as “precise realized good points,” typically dwarfs these estimates of truthful worth and is a extra correct illustration of somebody’s compensation.

For instance, Joe Hogan, CEO of Align Know-how, maker of Invisalign tooth straighteners, earned $21.6 million final 12 months based mostly on his inventory’s truthful worth estimate. However Hogan’s compensation was $113.4 million after calculating his shares that vested and exercised final 12 months, a distinction of greater than $90 million.

It additionally works the opposite manner round. Clover Well being’s Vivek Garipalli had a wage of practically $390 million final 12 months based mostly on his inventory’s truthful worth estimate. However in actuality, he did not get a penny. The worth of this inventory is tied to estimates of the inventory’s price sooner or later, comparable to hitting sure costs by 2026. Since Clover’s inventory worth has cratered since its IPO in 2021, Garipalli’s compensation was nowhere close to that title. determine.

The 2021 CEO crop stood out with one explicit outlier: Regeneron’s Schleifer, which remains to be among the many high earners. On paper, Schleifer is price billions. Now a lot of its fairness is starting to be acquired, to important levels.

In 2021, Schleifer’s haul of practically half a billion {dollars} got here principally from realized inventory choices. Since 2012, Schleifer has earned $1.3 billion. By comparability, the median employee at Regeneron earned simply over $149,000, about 3,500 instances lower than Schleifer. Nevertheless, Regeneron workers get hold of shares in the identical method as Schleifer, however there isn’t any disclosure of shares acquired or exercised, and subsequently the true worth is unknown.

Schleifer will not be one to fly beneath the radar, both personally or professionally. He owns mansions on Martha’s Winery and Chappaqua, NY, and in addition helped fund his son Adam’s failure congressional campaign. He used to golf with former President Trump on the latter’s nation membership in Westchester, NY

His firm has developed injectable therapies for most cancers, eyes and autoimmune ailments, and has constantly ranked amongst trade leaders by way of profitability. He additionally criticized his personal trade for raise prices and play patent games. In the course of the pandemic, Regeneron has created an efficient monoclonal antibody therapy for sufferers with Covid-19, including trumphowever this remedy stopped working towards the Omicron variant.

Regeneron has not made Schleifer obtainable for an interview. In an announcement, Regeneron stated Schleifer is “the founding father of Regeneron and one of many longest serving CEOs within the S&P 500.” Regeneron added that “the corporate’s share worth has elevated greater than 3,200% since our IPO, creating immense worth for shareholders.”

“Your calculation largely displays Dr. Schleifer’s train of inventory choices that elevated in worth with the worth of the corporate over time and had been about to run out after a holding interval. 10 years,” Regeneron stated in its assertion.

Wish to be taught extra concerning the highest paid CEOs within the biotech, healthtech, insurance coverage, provider and medical machine industries? The hyperlinks beneath will take you to STAT’s trade analyses.

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