Alphonso O’Neil-White, who stepped down as president and CEO of HealthNow New York last summer, was paid $6.4 million in 2013 in compensation, including a retirement payout, according to the insurer’s annual financial report to state regulators.
The compensation includes O’Neil-White’s salary for the first half of 2013, “at-risk pay” based on the insurer’s 2012 performance and money owed to O’Neil-White upon his retirement under the terms of his contract with HealthNow, according to a statement from the insurer.
The company’s filing with the Department of Financial Services does not break out the retirement payment portion.
O’Neil-White served as CEO of the region’s largest insurer, which operates locally as BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, since July 2004. He was interim CEO for seven months before that and worked at HealthNow for 17 years in all.
“Our board recognizes the achievements Alphonso made during his tenure,” HealthNow board Chairman Thomas Hook said at the time of O’Neil-White’s retirement, a statement repeated in a news release issued Tuesday. “And I want to thank him, on behalf of the board and all our associates, for his outstanding leadership and commitment to our members, as well as the communities we serve.”
Chuck Bell, program director for Consumers Union in Yonkers, suggested Tuesday that health insurers should be mindful of how their executive compensation plans look to the public.
“We’re at a moment in health care history when we need to make every dollar count,” he said. “Even if they did well, the boards of these organizations really have to think carefully about how they allocate funds. This seems like a heck of a lot of money, especially when it seems like their customers are having a hard time.”
Meanwhile, Rochester-based Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, the parent company of Amherst-based Univera Healthcare, paid former CEO David Klein $12.9 million last year following his retirement at the end of 2012, according to Excellus’ regulatory filing.
HealthNow also paid Cheryl Howe, who retired last October as its executive vice president of operations, $783,713 in 2013.
The six-, seven- or eight-figure compensation packages paid to retiring insurance executives in 2013 came as the plans’ members saw their rates continue to rise.
For example, the 458,000 members of HealthNow, which includes BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York and BlueShield of Northern New York, saw their rates rise by an average of 9.6 percent for 2013 for all plans, including 6.8 percent for HMO plans and 11 percent for “indemnity” plans.
Those rates were approved by the state Department of Financial Services in 2012, O’Neil-White’s last full year as CEO.
HealthNow reported Tuesday that 90 percent of its 2013 premium revenue went toward members’ medical care. That amount exceeds the state’s required minimum medical loss ratio, or MLR, of 82 percent to 85 percent.