It’s not uncommon for health insurance executives’ massive annual compensation packages to make the news, and 2019 was no exception. Last year, six health insurance CEOs received an excess of $15 million each. Centene’s Michael Neidorff topped the list at a whopping $26.4 million, with David Cordani of Cigna ranking second at $19.1 million and David Wichmann of UnitedHealthcare coming in a close third at $18.9 million. We did some quick back-of-the-envelope math to put these giant numbers into perspective. Cigna’s Cordani and United’s Wichmann were each paid almost 95 times more than the average general internal medicine physician, more than 240 times more than the average registered nurse, and almost 290 times more than the average U.S. household (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019; U.S. Census Bureau, 2019). It’s hard to imagine anyone needing, or even being able to spend, such a massive amount of money. Which got us thinking, what else could these dollars pay for? Here’s one idea: 2018 research from the Commonwealth Fund indicates that just one week of pay for both Cordani and Wichmann (that’s right, a single week) could cover the yearly premiums for roughly 140 families who obtain their health insurance through their employer.
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