Survey: Health execs are highest earning CEOs

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A recent analysis of CEO compensation compiled and published by the Wall Street Journal found that out of every industry, healthcare executives rake in the most money annually, on average. The healthcare category in this study included, among others, executives for highly scrutinized health insurance companies, as well as health system and pharmaceutical CEOs, and health IT company leaders. 

Healthcare CEOs earned an average of $10 million annually, according to the Journal, which pointed out that the next highest grossing CEOs--consumer goods execs--took home $8.9 million on average. Both telecom and oil and gas executives earned $8.6 million. A total of 456 U.S. companies with revenues of at least $4 billion in the most recent fiscal year were examined. 

While Aetna's Ron Williams was actually the highest paid health insurance CEO in 2009, and WellPoint's Angela Braly was the most criticized thanks to her company's rate hikes, the pay package of UnitedHealth Group's Stephen Hemsley stood out overall, according to the Journal. Hemsley's nearly 200 percent increase in pay (he earned roughly $8.9 million in 2009) was the biggest year-over-year percentage gain of any healthcare executive, the newspaper reported. He also earned around $100 million in realized long-term incentives, the second biggest amount out of all healthcare executives analyzed, according to the Journal.

To learn more:
- read this Wall Street Journal Health Blog post
- here's the Journal's survey results

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2009 Health Insurance CEO Compensation
CEO payouts at top healthcare systems
CEO Payouts at Public Health IT Companies
Top 10 Pharma CEO salaries of 2009