The CEOs at 177 health care companies collectively earned about $2.6 billion in 2018, according to a new analysis of corporate financial filings by Axios.
The highest paid CEO in the group was Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ Leonard Schleifer, who took home $118 million in 2018. Pharma CEOs accounted for 11 of the top 25 earners.
The great majority of the CEO pay came from stock options and awards, Axios’s Bob Herman said, with salaries making up only a small portion of overall compensation. “The pay packages reveal the health care system's real incentives: finding ways to boost revenue and stock value by raising prices, filling more hospital beds, and selling more drugs and devices,” Herman wrote.
One thing that doesn’t seem to play much of a role in overall compensation: quality of care.
The total for overall compensation is no doubt higher, Herman said, because the analysis did not include the earnings of CEOs at not-for-profit hospital systems, which haven’t yet released their tax filings. Hospital CEOs are typically highly paid, with chief executives at large systems such as New York-Presbyterian earning more than $10 million a year.