Highest paid exec is in healthcare, earns $145M

Healthcare executives are the among the top earners across all industries. In fact, three of the top 10 executives across all industries were in healthcare, according to a new report by research group GMI Ratings.

Healthcare company McKesson Corp. Chief Executive John Hammergren topped the list with nearly $145.3 million in compensation in 2010, reports the Los Angeles Times. The hefty paycheck includes a base salary of $1.6 million and more than 3.3 million exercised stock options that earned him a profit of $112 million, according to the article.

Following McKesson is Omnicare's CEO in second place for the highest paid exec with $98.3 million, according to a GMI press release.

Former CEO of health insurance company Aetna Ronald Williams received a total of $57.8 in compensation before retiring in April 2010. More than $50 million of that came from Williams' exercised 2.4 million stock options.

The survey, called the most extensive study of CEO pay in North America, demonstrates the widening gap between incomes, especially in light of protesters of Occupy Wall Street who call attention to "the 1 percent," reports The Guardian.

"Wages for everybody else have either been in decline or stagnated in this period, and that's for those who are in work," Paul Hodgson, a senior research associate at GMI, said in the report. "I had a feeling that we would see some significant increases this year. But 30-40% was something of a surprise."

CEOs saw a median increase of 27 percent in compensation, and the median CEO compensation in the S&P 500 jumped by 36.5 percent, according to the report.

"Shareholders understand and expect that extraordinary compensation must be linked sufficiently to extraordinary performance," Hodgson said. "For that reason, they are increasingly frustrated about the clear failures of compensation governance."

To learn more:
- read the GMI press release (.pdf)
- read Los Angeles Times article
- read the Guardian article on pay increases and the article about the top 1 percent