What Do Nonprofit Hospitals Reward? An Examination of CEO Compensation in Nonprofit Hospitals


Nonprofit hospital chief executive officer (CEO) compensation has received considerable attention in light of nonprofits’ tax-favored status as well as the high costs of hospital care. Past studies have found that hospital financial performance is a significant determinant of CEO pay but nonprofit performance, including quality and charity care, are not. Using post-ACA data, we re-examine whether a variety of hospital performance measures are important determinants of nonprofit hospital CEO compensation. We found mixed evidence with respect to the significance of the association between financial performance and uncompensated care and CEO compensation. Among the other nonprofit performance measures, patient satisfaction was significantly associated with CEO compensation, but other measures were not significant determinants of CEO compensation. Our results suggest nonprofit hospitals balance their financial health against their mission when setting CEO incentives. Additional policy targeting transparency in hospital CEO compensation may be warranted to help policymakers understand the specific factors used by hospital boards to incentivize CEOs.

The full study is available in Plos One.