WellPoint’s CEO gets a humongous raise…

“The pay hikes at WellPoint come at a time when overall CEO compensation has been falling slightly amid the recession and a public furor over executive pay levels,” notes the Los Angeles Times.

But WellPoint is not known for shrinking back from opportunities to enrich itself and its executives, even when so many Americans — not to mention its own customers — struggle around them.

Just last Friday, WellPoint announced it hiked CEO Angela F. Braly’s compensation up to $13.1 million, the Times’ Duke Helfand and Walter Hamilton reported.

That’s 51% in one year. Fifty-one percent — even as Anthem Blue Cross of California, a subsidiary of WellPoint Inc. of Indianapolis, has refused to back down from a planned May 1 premium increase of up to 39%.

Braly’s total compensation shot up to $13.1 million, from $8.7 million a year. earlier, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. At least three other WellPoint executives got compensation increases of as much as 75%.

The hefty packages come as Anthem Blue Cross seeks double-digit rate increases for many of its 800,000 members who buy individual policies.

California customers of Anthem Blue Cross said they were shocked by the pay hike, the majority of which came in the form of $6.2 million in restricted stock, up from $2.4 million a year earlier. Braly also got a $1.5-million performance bonus, compared with $73,810 in 2008.

The Times report quotes customer Mark Weiss, a podiatrist whose Anthem policy will increase in cost by 35%, as saying, “It’s unconscionable. How much more does somebody need?”

With federal health care reform on the horizon, we’ll see how much longer they can get away with this.

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