Aetna, UnitedHealth CEOs get millions in payouts

Health plans' payouts to their chief executives are coming under media scrutiny again as the CEOs of Aetna (NYSE: AET) and UnitedHealth (NYSE: UNH) drew millions of dollars in compensation last year.

Former Aetna CEO Ronald Williams was compensated $72 million in 2010, including $14.3 million in stocks that vest later and depend on performance, reports the Hartford Courant. The largest source of pay for Williams was $50.4 million in value realized through the exercise of options that were granted in 2001, and would have expired in early 2011. He also received $1.1 million in salary, $2.75 million in incentive pay, an additional $2.3 million in pension value and other compensation of $299,838.

Williams' payout ranks among the highest of any 2010 compensation package, USA Today reports.

Meanwhile, UnitedHealth CEO Stephen Hemsley received $10.8 million last year, up from $8.9 million in 2009. Hemsley received a salary and performance-related bonus of $4.7 million and stock and options valued at $6 million. UnitedHealth also gave him $110,079 in other compensation, mostly for matching contributions under an executive savings plan, according to the Washington Post.

Hemsley has served as chief executive since 2006, and his $1.3 million salary remained unchanged for the fourth straight year. But his performance-related bonus jumped 74 percent to $3.4 million in 2010. The value of his stock and options also rose. The company said in the filing it considered its "strong growth, operating performance and financial results, achieved in a difficult economic environment" in determining pay last year, the Post notes.

To learn more:
- read the Hartford Courant article
- see the Washington Post story
- check out the USA Today piece

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