In Tough Economic Times, UnitedHealth CEO’s 2009 Compensation More Than Doubles

HempsleyBefore long, insurance companies will jack up premiums and blame the increases on rising medical costs and the new taxes in the health care reform law. And when they do, please remember that even during times of economic recession — when an increasing number of Americans are actually losing their coverage and insurers are shedding customers — insurers used your premium dollars to double the salaries of their CEOs.

WellPoint CEO Angela Braly’s total compensation for 2009 skyrocketed 51% from 2008 to $13.1 million, even as the company was requesting double digit premium increases in California to cover it’s “loses” and now Business Week is reporting that UnitedHealth CEO’s 2009 pay more than doubled:

UnitedHealth Group Inc. overcame a sluggish economy to manage 28 percent profit growth last year and rewarded CEO Stephen J. Hemsley by more than doubling his total compensation.

Hemsley, 57, received 2009 compensation valued at $8.9 million from the Minnetonka, Minn., managed care company, according to an Associated Press analysis of data filed with regulators Wednesday.

That included a salary of $1.3 million for the third straight year, a performance-based cash bonus of nearly $2 million and stock options and restricted stock valued at about $5.6 million on the days they were granted. He also received $86,916 in other compensation, including matching contributions to his 401(k) and executive savings plan.

In 2008, Hemsley received total compensation valued at $3.2 million. He saw no option awards that year or in 2007.

To be clear, insurers aren’t wrong to argue that health care spending increases premiums. They are wrong, however, in pretending that they are doing all they can to contain health care spending and that they’re taken unprecedented steps to lower their administrative costs and overhead.