Healthcare CEOs scored big paydays in pandemic's first year

The CEOs of some of the biggest hospital and health insurance companies saw their pay soar last year, despite challenges linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Insider

Cigna CEO David Cordani made nearly $79 million in 2020, up from $13.4 million a year earlier, according to an Insider analysis of the company's financial documents. The analysis also showed that Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare CEO Samuel Hazen made $83.6 million in 2020, more than four times his compensation in 2019. 

For its compensation analysis, Insider included CEOs' realized pay, which includes salary, bonus, non-equity incentive compensation, change in pension value, other compensation and options exercised and stock vested during 2020. 

Spokespeople for Cigna and HCA said those figures don't reflect one year's compensation and the stock options were given to their leaders years earlier. 

"Most of that amount was derived from stock awards granted almost a decade ago, when our stock was trading around $43 per share," a Cigna spokesperson told Insider, "and represents compensation earned over the course of eight-plus years, aligned to the tremendous value created for our customers, clients, employees, and shareholders during that time."

The CEOs saw little change in their base salaries last year. Mr. Hazen received a salary of $1.3 million last year, compared to $1.4 million a year earlier. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, HCA executives saw their salaries reduced by 30 percent from April 1, 2020, through June 30, 2020. 

Mr. Cordani's salary last year was $1.5 million, the same as in 2019, according to the company's proxy statement

Insider reported that its analysis revealed the CEOs of six other publicly traded health insurers and hospital systems received major paydays last year, primarily because they cashed in stock options and awards. 

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