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Monday, April 19, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Monday Memo

Nice Work If You Can Get It

Last week, the state Insurance Commissioner's Office reported that Regence BlueShield Chief Executive Officer Richard Nelson made $386,003 in 1998, not including bonuses. That's $201.04 an hour for an eight-hour day, or $3.35 a minute.

Regence spokesman Chris Bruzzo says Nelson's salary wasn't out of order, noting the average salary and bonus for the chief executive of a commercial insurance firm was $1.4 million in 1996, nearly three times what Dean made last year.

Bruzzo said Nelson's pay was "competitive" for a company the size of Regence, whose underwriting business grossed more than $1.1 billion in 1998.

Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn, on the other hand, has criticized health plans for spending too much money on administrative costs, including executive pay, while at the same time fretting over annual losses from underwriting.

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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