April 03, 2023

Senators Draw Attention to the Sky-High Salaries of Medicare Advantage CEOs

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Jeff Merkley (OR) are calling attention to the massive profits and “exorbitant” executive salaries of top Medicare Advantage insurers such as UnitedHealthcare and Humana, which are leading a lobbying campaign against efforts to combat widespread fraud in the privately run healthcare program.

“In 2022, the seven major Medicare Advantage health care insurers—UnitedHealthcare, CVS/Aetna, Cigna, Elevance Health, Humana, Centene, and Molina—brought in revenues of $1.25 trillion and reported total profits of $69.3 billion, a 287% increase in profits since 2012,” the Democratic senators wrote in recent letters to the companies’ CEOs, citing an analysis by Wendell Potter of the Center for Health and Democracy.

Humana chief executive Bruce Broussard took in more than $17 million in 2021.

Profits on Medicare Advantage plans are at least double what insurers earn from other kinds of policies, according to a recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The insurers receive a flat rate for every person they sign up, and they get bonuses for those with serious health conditions, because their medical care usually costs more.

However, multiple studies from academic researchers, government watchdog agencies and federal fraud cases underscore how some insurers have gamed the system by attaching extra diagnosis codes to patients’ records to collect the bonus payments.

“Containing costs for Medicare Advantage is one of the most important ways the president and Congress could improve Medicare’s solvency,” said Robert Roach, Jr., President of the Alliance. “Reining in the absurd salaries of the CEOs of these insurance companies is warranted, too.”

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