Federal security documents show that HCA Healthcare’s CEO R. Milton Johnson made $108 million in 2018 between salary, stock, and other compensation, as reported by Axios. He was the highest-paid healthcare executive in their analysis, leading executives from Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Humana, and Cigna.
The analysis was part of Axios’ coverage of how the Affordable Care Act has impacted the healthcare industry. Healthcare executive salaries have grown 11 percent per year since 2010, while overall wage growth has hovered between two and four percent since 2010, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
Because many of these healthcare executives are paid in stock, they are motivated to make moves that improve the stock value, which doesn’t always align with bringing down costs in a healthcare industry that is still fee-for-service. Increasing prescriptions, procedures, tests, and raising prices are all ways to make a stock increase, but that might now always be the best treatment for the patient or the broader healthcare system. The average household spent only 7 percent of its income on healthcare in 1996, but that figure has increased to 23 percent today.
In an analysis from Holmes Murphy of Dallas-area knee replacement surgeries, Medical City in Dallas billed $150,000, which was the second highest billed cost in the study. Baylor Scott and White, Texas Health Resources, and Methodist all billed less than $65,000 for the same procedure.