Health insurer CEO-to-employee salary ratio narrowed in 2020

Across the insurance industry, health plan CEOs are awarded the highest salaries and pocket the most compared to their subordinates, although the gap narrowed during the pandemic, a new survey shows.

Centene CEO Michael Neidorff’s $25 million compensation package ranked the highest among the 20 publicly traded insurance company chiefs, according to an S&P Global Market Intelligence report published Monday. Neidorff took home 362 times more than the median $68,987 his workers earned, representing the greatest salary spread between employees and CEOs among health, propertyandcasualty, and life insurance companies. Centene employees had the highest median pay among health insurers, S&P reports.

UnitedHealth Group workers earned the least across the health insurance industry, with median pay of $57,371, about 312 times less than former CEO David Wichmann, the report says. Wichmann earned $17.9 million in 2020, down 5.6% from 2019, according to data compiled by Axios. The insurance giant named Andrew Witty CEO in February, after Wichmann announced he was stepping down for personal reasons.

Molina Healthcare CEO Joe Zubretsky also took a pay cut last year, with his salary decreasing 1% to $17.9 million in 2020. Zubretsky earned 266 times the median employee compensation of $67,000, the report says. Zubretsky inked a new employment agreement this month.

Executive salaries decreased at all health insurers except Cigna year-over-year. In 2020, Cigna CEO David Cordani earned $19.7 million, or 304 times the median employee pay of $65,520.

While health insurance CEOs earned the most compared with their staff, the difference between their salaries and their employees narrowed last year.

The ratio between CEO compensation and median employee earnings decreased at UnitedHealth Group, Molina, Cigna and Centene in 2020. Executives at all these companies but Cigna took pay cuts last year. Most health insurers experienced record profits as patients deferred care last year.

Meanwhile, the pay gap between company heads and workers increased at Humana and Anthem, the report says. S&P did not include CEO salaries at Humana and Anthem. Anthem CEO Gail Boudreau earned $17.1 million and Humana CEO Bruce Broussard made $16.4 million last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.


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