Healthcare costs are crushing the average America family, busting our budgets and warping our politics. The average family now pays nearly $20,000 per year in insurance premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket medical costs. Healthcare costs are completely out of control; they were about 7% of American spending in 1970, but today healthcare is almost 20% of Americans’ spending.
Because of the almost unimaginably enormous sums lavished on health care providers by government, insurance companies, and private individuals, hospitals that, just a few decades ago, were charities are now very lucrative businesses. But they are still doing business as “not for profit” entities.
A watchdog group called American Transparency, which operates a website called “openthebooks.com,” recently issued a report on 82 non-profit healthcare providers. Non-profits are required to plow any income in excess of expenses back into their organizations. Last year, the combined net assets of the top 82 non-profit health corporations grew from $164.2 billion to $203.1 billion. In effect, the “not-for-profit” healthcare industry made a $40 billion profit, a 23.6% return on investment. The healthcare industry in the United States is super-profitable.
Health care executives are highly compensated. American Transparency tracked the compensation of the most highly paid employee in each of the 82 non-profits; the total compensation of these 82 individuals was $281.8 million, meaning the average CEO salary among these “non-profits” was $3.437 million per year.
A few of the CEOs are hogging so much they are skewing the statistics. The CEO of Banner Health raked off $21 million last year; the top dog at Memorial Hermann Health System scarfed up over $18 million; the CEO of “Ascencion,” based in St. Louis, made over $13 million; the CEO of Kaiser Foundation, based in Oakland, earned a cool $10.7 million; the head honcho at Northwestern Memorial pulled down $10.5 million, and the chief cook and bottle washer at “Advocate Healthcare” snarfed up $10 million.
We are happy to report that Terry Shaw, the CEO of Adventist Health Systems, Florida, dba “AdventHealth”, which operates Florida Hospital in Orlando among many other facilities, was paid only $1,537,792, well below average for these top healthcare executives. (Terry Shaw grew up in Keene, Texas, but is not related to Ken Shaw, current president of Southwestern Adventist University.)
The other Adventist company listed is “Adventist Health, Hinsdale, Illinois.” I am not certain of the corporate identity intended, but it seems that it might be AMITA Health, which is the result of a merger between 3 hospital chains: “Adventist Midwest Health,” part of “AdventHealth,” “Alexian Brothers,” a Catholic chain of hospitals owned by “Ascension,” and “Presence Health,” another Catholic hospital chain. The top earner of “Adventist Health, Hinsdale, Illinois” is listing as making $2,335,962. Since I’m uncertain of the corporate identity, I cannot say who is making this $2.3 million per year, but Mark Frey is the CEO of AMITA Health. Before the merger, Frey was president of Alexian Brothers, one of the Catholic hospital chains, and is probably not an Adventist.
Given the information in the preceding paragraph, perhaps the title of this piece should be: “Adventist Health Executives Earn Millions, Yoke Themselves Unequally to Babylon.”