Mar 22, 2021 - Health

Health giants disclose hefty pandemic year paydays for top executives

Illustration of a health plus peeling back revealing a hundred dollar bill on the reverse side.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Top executives at large health care companies have been registering more money during the 2020 pandemic year than before, new company filings show.

Why it matters: The coronavirus upended how and when people sought care, but it didn't change the stock-heavy nature of how the industry's power brokers get paid.

By the numbers: Health care CEOs have been posting large 2020 paydays because their stock got more valuable. All numbers are based on actual realized stock gains.

  • Sam Hazen of HCA Healthcare, a dominant hospital chain that returned coronavirus bailout funds partially due to higher profits, made $84 million (four times as much as 2019), and $66 million of that came from stock.
  • David Cordani of Cigna made $79 million (six times as much as 2019), and $73 million of that came from stock.
  • Dave Ricks of Eli Lilly made $68 million (twice as much as 2019), and $58 million of that came from stock.

What they're saying: A Cigna spokesperson said Cordani's pay represents his long-held stock and is "aligned to the tremendous value created for our customers, clients, employees and shareholders."

  • An Eli Lilly spokesperson said Ricks' pay was justified because the drug company "largely met or exceeded its combined financial and strategic goals."
  • An HCA spokesperson said the company's "philosophy is centered around creating a strong, positive link between our performance and compensation."

Go deeper: Our 2020 health care executive compensation tracker

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