Sunday, August 16, 2009

Williams, Hanway, Helmsley & Bray

Any of these names sound familiar?

Didn't think so.

They are not household names like Oprah, Tiger, Dr. Phil or 50 Cent.

So what do these folks have in common?

They are (or were) all top execs of health insurance companies and made the Forbes list of the top 500 bosses (ranked by pay).

Ron Williams of Aetna earned $8.9 million, Edward Hanway of Cigna made $30 million, Stephen Helmsley of UHC was paid $4 million and Angela Bray of Wellpoint (Blue Cross) made $4 million.

By comparison, Oprah earned $260 million, Tiger Woods earned $115 million and he only worked half the year, Dr. Phil earned $90 million, 50 cent earned $7 million.

FWIW, Elvis earned $45 million without singing a note or wiggling his hips while Trouble (Leona Helmsley's dog) earned $12 million.

CEO's of 4 top health insurance companies earned less collectively than Dr. Phil and all but one earned less than a dog.

So why should you care how much these folks earn?

Their products compete in a highly regulated market. If the pay of CEO Hanway (Cigna) had a noticeable impact on the price of their product they would lose all their business to Aetna, UHC and Wellpoint/Blue Cross. Yet somehow, in spite of the big paychecks they are able to deliver a product that is priced competitively with other health insurance carriers.

Go figure.

Does Oprah really need $260 million to live? Can't she get by on $100 million?

Elvis is no longer eating fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches, so I see no reason why he would need $45 million.

And when was the last time Dr. Phil cured anyone of cancer or performed a life saving heart transplant?

Edward Hanway may not be able to sink a 40 foot birdie putt but that doesn't mean he can't deliver a competitive health insurance policy to the market.

If you want to whine about how much someone earns, ask yourself what a dog does do with $12 million.
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