2022 was a booming year for healthcare executives. That’s right. As Americans struggled to afford healthcare—and food and housing—the CEOs of over 300 publicly traded healthcare companies collectively pocketed $4 billion last year while offering asylum to otherwise uneasy stock investors.
By all accounts, 2022 was a rough year for the economy. Yet, a recent in-depth investigation by STAT revealed that the top elite leading the failing business of keeping us well—Americans are, after all, living shorter lives and in poorer health than many other nations—earned enough money to “buy Costco memberships for more than 66 million people.” Put another way, the CEOs’ windfall is “equivalent to the entire economic output of Sierra Leone.” John McDonough, a health policy professor at Harvard who has studied healthcare for almost 40 years, remarked:
“No matter how you slice it, the people at the top — the CEOs of these companies — are making enormous gains every year compared to ordinary Americans. This is the bitter fruit that we reap from telling the healthcare industry to act more like a business.”
Offering a complex view of how top executives are incentivized, STAT’s investigation into executive compensation scoured the proxy filings for more than 300 companies across all healthcare sectors, focusing on companies worth at least $1 billion in March. The sectors included suppliers, medical device firms, health insurers, hospitals, drugmakers, biotech firms, and health tech companies.
Besides Big Pharma’s obvious stake in the game, STAT found that, thanks to the higher stock prices of the largest health insurance companies—which have gone “all in” on government-funded programs, specifically Medicare Advantage and Medicaid—the earnings of health insurance CEOs was grossly over the top in 2022. For example, Molina Healthcare’s CEO Joseph Zubretsky earned a record-breaking $181 million pay package. With government healthcare programs the “lifeblood” of its business model, Molina gets over 80% of its revenue from state Medicaid programs covering low-income individuals.
STAT found that stock continues to make up the bulk of healthcare executive compensation, with 81% of healthcare CEOs’ pay coming from stock gains. This unbalanced arrangement propels the enormous pay differences between those in command and those on the ground getting their hands dirty. That list includes home health aids, nurses, and others who provide the workforce for their lucrative scheme. By meticulously entering salaries, bonuses, stocks, and “other benefits like security and private jet use” manually, STAT’s analysis is unique because it digs deeper into how stock awards and options are calculated.
The report explains that instead of using what’s known as the “estimated fair value” of those lucrative awards and options, STAT utilizes the “actual realized gains.” In other words, the amount of money that executives collect from exercising their vested stock. This analysis offers a more accurate representation of someone’s taxable income, which can often be much higher than the “estimated fair value” companies report. Realizing debauchery below the surface of company reports is not shocking, given the corrupt business of healthcare that was further exposed thanks to the pandemic.
Though they took home more in 2021, healthcare CEOs earned an average of $13 million in 2022, with the nation’s median CEO compensation being roughly $4.3 million. STAT’s research found that 90 CEOs made at least $10 million in 2022, with 17 earning more than $40 million. Moreover, the average median bonus for these bigwigs in 2022 was about $700,000, which means their bonuses were roughly ten times the median household income. Even more obscene—understanding the health of America at large was crumbling at the hands of greedy corporate executives and a dangerous experimental drug—over 100 CEOs made at least $10 million in 2021, with 29 pocketing over $40 million.
Guess who dominated the other healthcare executives with a “disproportionately large amount of money” in 2022? You guessed it—sustained by decades of support from the U.S. government, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and DARPA, the highest-paid CEO is none other than Moderna’s CEO, Stéphane Bancel. According to STAT, Bancel raked in $398 million in 2022, equal to the take-home pay of the next six highest-paid CEOS in biotech and pharma.
Undoubtedly reveling the current good fortune, Moderna and Bancel have quietly been working with DARPA for years to develop mRNA vaccines. A windfall for all, COVID-19 paved the way to introduce gene-damaging mRNA technology to health care across the board. Two short years after the mandated COVID jab, Moderna has 48 mRNA products in its pipeline and over 35 ongoing clinical trials for mRNA treatments for conditions, including infectious diseases, immuno-oncology, personalized cancer vaccines, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, and rare diseases. Will this ruse, at the expense of the health of American citizens, be allowed to continue? Joe Betancourt, president of the healthcare think tank the Commonwealth Fund, summed up his thoughts on the extreme wealth of a select few at the expense of the health of a nation, remarking:
“That’s the part that is uncomfortable to me — to see such a concentrated amount of dollars that are accruing to a small amount of individuals. The evidence demonstrates that … the value that we are getting as a nation from the dollars that go into the healthcare system, clearly, I think is lacking in comparison to other nations.”