United-Optum poses a greater threat to health systems than Amazon, CVS

The news: UnitedHealth Group (UHG) reported $80 billion in revenues and $5 billion in profit in Q1. That’s up from $70.2 billion in revenues and about on par with $4.9 billion in profits in the last quarter of 2021.

  • UHG’s analytics arm Optum was a major revenue driver in Q1. OptumHealth’s revenues grew 34% from Q4 to Q1.

UHG becomes a clinical care behemoth: Its mammoth mergers and acquisitions show how it's growing faster than any other insurer.

Last month, Optum scooped up one of the largest US in-home healthcare organizations, LHC Group, for $5.4 billion. Once the deal closes in late 2022, Optum will gain access to LHC Group’s 30,000 healthcare workers and 12 million patient interactions annually.

Competitors like Humana have also inked multi-billion dollar expansion deals. But UHG is still on track to dominate every corner of the healthcare industry.

  • In January 2021, Optum announced plans to snap up fellow health IT company Change Healthcare for $13 billion.
  • At the time, we said the companies’ combined reach would make Optum an undisputed data analytics powerhouse in healthcare. Change Healthcare processes over $1.5 trillion in healthcare claims annually, per its website.
  • Regulators are pushing back with anti-competitive concerns. Still, UHG expects the acquisition to close sometime this year.

What’s next? Once the Optum-Change Healthcare deal goes through, UHG will become an even bigger competitive threat to health systems than giants like Amazon and CVS.

  • Optum employs 53,000 providers and 1,450 neighborhood clinics across the US, according to its site.
  • Its reach doesn’t stop at its in-person clinics, though. Last April, UHG’s Optum announced the launch of a nationwide telehealth service, Optum Virtual Care.

The Change Healthcare merger will extend UHG’s analytics presence.

  • In fact, 48% of health executives already say UHG-Optum is an “extreme threat” to their health system.
  • That’s far higher than their perceived threat from Amazon (18%), CVS (17%), and Walmart (15%), per a 2021 Kaufman Hall report.