Look at the picture above. Take another look. And another look. I need to know I am not the only one angered by what I see, in fact, not angered, I am mad. It is absolutely ridiculous. America’s healthcare system is a farce, and it’s not hard to see why. Whenever the horrible state of the American healthcare is discussed, health insurance companies are always in the conversation.

I remember several years ago when I used to think insurance companies were the reason we were not worse off as a country health-wise. Those were far simpler times. But reality dawned long ago, and once you see it, you just cannot unsee it. 

Brace yourself for some pretty shocking figures. CVS Health, the company that bought Aetna in 2018, paid its CEO, Larry Merlo, $21.9 million in 2018. That estimates to about 618 times the average employee salary in the company. 618 times! Also in 2018, the total compensation the CEO of UnitedHealth Group, David Wichmann, received was $21.5 million. The company, through its annual proxy statement, said that Wichmann makes close to 316 times the company’s average employee salary. Those are disturbing figures and what is even more disturbing is that they aren’t rare ones. That is the normal progression with health insurance companies. 

The least paid CEO of all health insurance companies, Kenneth Burdick of WellCare Health Plans, earned $12.7 million in 2018, which was still about 156 times the company’s average employee salary.

Citizens have to pay mighty money in premiums every year. The cost of getting quality healthcare is rising every day. One would think that the quality of healthcare rendered will also increase; well, anyone in a rational country will. Eleven wealthy countries were ranked by Commonwealth Fund, and in the quality of the healthcare segment, guess which position America ranked. Last! We came in at dead last despite spending ridiculous amounts of money on health every year.

Americans borrowed $88 billion to settle medical bills last year, while the health insurance companies that we have entrusted our healthcare to keeps increasing the money they pay their CEOs. So, to make it perfectly clear, we keep paying more and more in premiums every year, but this doesn’t correspond to better healthcare, no, the healthcare services isn’t even stagnated, it is getting worse. And at the same time, CEOs are getting richer. Can anyone make it make sense? Please, make it make sense to me. 

The way I see it, the rich are getting richer, while the sick, well, getting sicker. There have been talks of an Affordable Care Act, and these insurance companies are fighting vehemently against it. You know why? Who am I kidding, I’m sure you know why. They don’t care about patients; they don’t care about doctors, they only care about making more money.

Like I said earlier, I wouldn’t be so bothered if our healthcare was actually getting better with the ridiculous amounts of money we pay to healthcare insurance companies. But, that is not the case, that is far from what the case is. We are paying more for worse. Let that sink in. The money for healthcare keeps increasing, while life expectancy is reducing. The money we are paying isn’t improving the quality of healthcare because the insurance companies don’t actually care about improving the quality of healthcare services, they only want to improve the quality of their bank accounts. I’d say prove me wrong, but you literally can’t. I’m not just making things up; I have figures to support my arguments.

Since we are still on the topic of outrageous figures, consider this. It costs $12,000 to have a baby in the United States. That seems like a lot just by looking at it, but when you compare it to Finland’s, your perception of what is a lot will change. In Finland, it costs $60 to have a baby. That’s it, $60. So, for every one baby born in America, 200 babies could have been born in Finland for the same amount. This particular piece of information hurts my brain so much. I knew our healthcare system was a mess, but this is just crazy.

I have to wrap it up now. The discrepancy between our healthcare and that of other developed countries in the world is ridiculously wide. And that has to be like the tenth time I’m using the word ridiculous in this article, but what other word is there to describe what healthcare insurance companies are doing to our healthcare system. Ludicrous? Pathetic? Sickening? Farcical? 

Oh, I almost forgot, I haven’t actually given a straight answer to the topic question – why health insurance companies don’t want to pay for your services. The answer? Because they don’t care about you as much as they care about making more money. You know what, scratch that last part. The answer? Because they don’t care about you. Period.

This article was written by Dr. Adil Manzoor DO, a Board Certified Internist & Board Eligible Pediatrician, who works as a Hospitalist, and Emergency Room Physician. He is also the current President of Garden State Street Medicine, a non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to provide free preventive and acute urgent care services for the homeless. He is also the co-founder of his own unique medical practice Mobile Medicine NJ.


  1. https://www.gq.com/story/eat-the-health-care-ceos/amp
  2. https://pnhp.org/health-industry-ceos-compensation-in-2017/
  3. https://www.modernhealthcare.com/insurance/health-insurer-ceos-score-big-paychecks-despite-public-scrutiny
  4. https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/payer/health-insurance-ceos-took-home-a-hefty-pay-day-2018-how-does-compare-to-their-employees

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