Monthly Archives: June 2009

The Fat Fifty (health insurance execs)

Together, the annual salary + bonuses of the top 50 health insurance executives in America is a whopping $193.5 million.  The two richest among them, Stephen Hemsley of UnitedHealth Group and Ronald Williams of Aetna have stock options with a market value of $1 billion.  The other 48 between them have stock options with a market value of another half a billion dollars.

Before we say these individuals have the morals of alley cats we need to put ourselves in their shoes.  If I, for one, pulled in $9.8 million a year as Angela Braly, CEO of Wellpoint does, I would fight like a cornered pitbull to keep it.  And if I had $750 million in stock options dependent on my company maintaining its current level of profitability, as Stephen Hemsley of UnitedHealth Group does, I frankly probably wouldn’t care whether or not people died every day if that was the cost of keeping my options.  I would lie, cheat, steal, run blatantly false and deceptive TV ads, fund “think tanks” that don’t think, and bite people on their necks if that’s what it took.

It isn’t these peoples’ morality… it is simply their humanity.  Most of us, in their place, would do the same despicable, indescribably destructive, dishonest, anti-social, borderline homicidal acts that they are doing now to block real healthcare reform for at least another generation.

So we need to understand that the healthcare battle being waged isn’t personal.  It isn’t 300 million Americans out to get 50 immoral individuals.  It is 300 million Americans who are being maimed, bankrupted, and killed by 50 humans doing pretty much what any humans would do if they found themselves in their exhalted shoes.

Anyway, here are the Health Insurance 50, with their annual compensation (as of last year) and the market value of their stock options according to Reuters.  When you’re listening to the ads about socialist medicine and waiting lines… just remember that it is these 50 people funding them and making the decisions to run them… and think what you’d be willing to say if you were in their shoes.

Company Executive/Director FY Total Comp Market Value of Stock Options
Aetna Ronald Williams $24,300,100 $227,330,300
Aetna William Casazza $2,677,780 $529,094
Aetna Mark Bertolinni $7,873,120
Aetna Joseph Zubretsky $5,566,280
Aetna Reisman, Lonny $2,446,290
Cigna Cordani, David $4,321,160 $2,744,360
Cigna Hanway, H. Edward $12,236,700 $30,463,020
Cigna Murabito, John $1,951,090 $9,197,530
Cigna Petren, Carol $2,184,670
Wellpoint Braly, Angela $9,844,212
Wellpoint DeVeydt, Wayne $3,023,907
Wellpoint Fluegel, Bradley $2,264,581
Wellpoint Glasscock, Larry $8,832,708 $77,005,112
Wellpoint Goulet, Kenneth $2,428,361 $218,686
Wellpoint Lewis, Dijuana $2,579,813
Coventry Guertin, Shawn $3,769,810 $13,090,720
Coventry McGarry, James $1,547,290 $4,615,990
Coventry Wise, Allen $13,052,800 $26,400,800
Coventry Zielinski, Thomas $2,168,740 $2,557,310
Centene Eggert, Mark $1,378,332
Centene Goldman, Carol $1,146,983 $196,479
Centene Hunter, Jesse $699,385
Centene Neidorff, Michael $8,774,483 $9,758,616
Centene Scheffel, William $1,725,015 $774,037
Centene Slusser, Eric $1,532,692
Amerigroup Baldwin, Stanley $1,316,170 $567,308
Amerigroup Carlson, James $5,292,550 $3,244,691
Amerigroup Truess, James $3,206,890
Amerigroup Whitley-Taylor, Linda $1,170,220
Amerigroup Zoretic, Richard $2,418,720 $353,400
Humana Bloem, James $1,772,850 $12,536,160
Humana Goodman, Bruce $1,588,050 $9,130,650
Humana McCallister, Michael $4,764,310 $61,567,458
Humana Murray, James $2,467,360 $23,419,710
Health Net Capezza, Joseph $1,151,800
Health Net Gellert, Jay $4,425,360 $62,291,400
Health Net Mayhew, Karin $1,649,760 $1,510,920
Health Net Tiano, Linda $1,266,250
Health Net Woys, James $1,887,560 $14,905,223
Universal American Barasch, Richard $1,564,290 $12,452,450
Universal American Bryant, Gary $1,090,860 $7,319,070
Universal American Carpenter, Theodore $817,343 $262,800
Universal American Jacobs, Gary $561,187 $948,800
Universal American Waegelein, Robert $980,185 $5,919,580
Universal American Wardle, John $497,842
UnitedHealth Group Hemsley, Stephen $3,241,042 $750,465,894
UnitedHealth Group Mikan, George $6,531,406 $1,374,150
UnitedHealth Group Munsell, William $5,267,845 $8,692,222
UnitedHealth Group Welters, Anthony $5,635,177 $10,676,463
UnitedHealth Group Wichmann, David $4,638,870 $81,561,764
TOTAL ANNUAL COMP MARKET VALUE of STOCK OPTIONS
$193,530,199 $1,474,082,167
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Maybe Liberals and Conservatives Should Recognize the Camels’ Noses Under Their Tents

The reason you never want to see the camel’s nose under the tent is because  the rest of the camel is soon going to follow.

Some of our more contentious political issues seem to be about camels noses.  They are foregone conclusions.  They are issues like ratchets that can only go forward.  Some are like the “mega-trends” popular in the 90’s.  It makes me wonder if there is room to trade off some of these, each side admit defeat where, frankly, it happened long ago, and move on.

To start with a camel’s nose under liberals’ tent… ANWAR.  Protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is futile.  The reason is that as public opinion swings this way or that, there will come a point, eventually, where we lose.  And we only have to lose once.  One single loss and decades upon decades of struggle to protect ANWAR will be permanently, forever undone.  We cannot prevent this from happening.  We might be able to stave it off for years or decades, but sooner or later it will be riddled with oil wells.  We need to accept this.

A camel’s nose under the conservatives’ tent is equal protection under the law.  Setting aside affirmative action, the trend is quite clear.  Marriage, to the degree that it involves a state issued license, is going to protect gay and lesbian couples as well as straight couples.  Landlords are not going to be allowed to discriminate against gays or minorities.  Women’s salaries are going to catch up to men’s and women are going to achieve the power, control, and wealth that they deserve.  Discrimination in hiring, employment, promotion, retirement, etc. is going to increasingly be a thing of the past and government measures will be increasingly sophisticated and strident to make this so.  These things will sooner or later amount to cultural changes such that discrimination on the basis of just about anything other than ability will be anathema to all organizations, including churches.  This genie is out of the bottle and it isn’t going back in.

Why don’t we trade?  Why don’t we admit defeat on ANWAR since we know we’re going to lose it at some point anyway, in exchange for conservatives allowing the Department of Labor to extend their anti-discrimination enforcement to any identifiable demographic whatsoever.  If organizations can’t prove that there is a statistically meaningful basis for discriminating on any factor, they shouldn’t be allowed to do it.  For example, if the DOL found that in a given company tall people, thin people, pretty people, white people, ivy league people, male people, straight people, etc. are hired more, paid more, or promoted more and the company can’t demonstrate statistically solid evidence that those people are more productive than others… they get penalized.

Seems to me this would be a fair trade.  I’ll drill the first hole up in Alaska if Boehner will get legislation passed and signed limiting discrimination in all areas of law and business to rational skills and abilities.

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Fear and Loathing (and Mostly Loathing) of Presidents

Conservative friend of mine (conservative but not flat out looney) recently started tweeting things about President Obama that I just thought were strange. “He’d do well to remember it’s the United States of America, not the United States of Obama” and “Obama should remember that America is bigger than the presidency and the presidency is bigger than the man”.

I had to question him on this because he and I can debate policy all day long and never agree but until now I’ve heard very few people speak about Obama this way. There’s the whole walks on water thing but that’s really more of an indictment of his supporters than anything he’s done. Same with the Paris Hilton thing. Even most of my conservative friends have said things like they wish they’d won and they often disagree with him, as you’d expect, but that they don’t feel the visceral hatred of him that they did of the Clintons. They fear for the worst, they hope for the best, and the’re patiently waiting for it to be their turn again.

I never understood the Conservative visceral hatred of the Clintons. You’d want to say they hated liberals and that spilled over but the Clintons have built their entire political careers being moderate to CONSERVATIVE Democrats. Pappy got the NAFTA ball rolling but it took Clinton to make it law. Clinton did don’t ask don’t tell, not Reagan. Clinton refused to move gay rights ahead, he was far from a rabid gun control nut. Clinton was the most pro business, deregulatory, free trading president probably ever until Bush, who was more of an anarchist than pro-business guy anyway. But none the less, hate the Clintona they did. I knew, still know, conservatives who can’t even come close to understanding how I could possibly… Not even like them but how I could possibly not despise them.

Which is just the way that great huge numbers of us feel about W. I have read more of his speeches than I’ve listened to because I couldn’t stand the sound of his voice. His policies were bad enough but watching him spew his stupidity while not completing sentences, mispronunciating words, grinning while he’s talking about death and dismemberment, it was all more than I could do. I loathed him. He was an embarrassment to me as an American. He didn’t have to talk about a policy at all for me to not like him. The sound of him blessing the Thanksgiving turkey would have made me blanche as much as any of the things he said.

With Obama there has been a lot less of this but you can feel it starting to brew. They’re starting to move away from him being one of the better people they could lose to if they had to lose to finding meaning in his mannerisms that hardly seems to be there, and then being infuriated by those mannerisms to the point where they are starting to loathe him.

So, it seems interesting how this process works and like something a lot of us as normal, everyday citizens would probably benefit from understanding more about. I suspect my friend might actually be comforted to learn that his growing disdain actually has more to do with him coming from the other tribe, no matter what tribe it is, than with Obama actually morphing before his eyes from a generally decent, competent, if young, man who disagrees with him on a range of policy issues to some meglomaniacal douche bag.

I don’t think a better understanding of this would have made listening to Bush any more palatable to me, but if it’s true it does make me a little less defensive about my friend saying these crazy ass, nonsensical things about my guy. It kind of makes it possible to discount it as “oh, never mind him, he’s naturally going to hallucinate like this because he lost. We all do that.” which seems more pallatable than trying to agree with him ok whether or not the guy is stuck up.

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