UnitedHealth Group raked in billions during Q2—but it’s not immune to the effects of inflation

The news: UnitedHealth Group (UHG) brought in a whopping $10.1 billion profit and $160.5 billion in revenues over the first six months of 2022. That’s up from $9.1 billion profit and $141.5 billion in revenues during the same time period last year, according to UHG’s latest earnings call.

Optum brought in billions for UHG: Optum (Optum Health, OptumRx, and OptumInsight) collectively delivered $45.1 billion in Q2 revenues alone. That growth was driven by Optum Health (its care delivery business) which grew by over $4 billion in Q2 (32%), according to the earnings call.

The bigger picture: There’s no slowing down Optum’s growth as it becomes a care behemoth.

  • In March, Optum announced plans to purchase the largest in-home health organizations (LHC Group) for $5.4 billion. That means Optum will gain access to LHC Group’s 30,000 healthcare workers and 12 million annual patient interactions.
  • In early April, Optum finalized a deal to acquire Houston-based Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. The practice offers 55 medical specialties and employs more than 500 physicians.
  • And in late April, Optum inked a deal to purchase Massachusetts-based Atrius Health. It has 30 practice locations and 645 physicians.

What’s next? More physician groups and health systems could succumb to Optum’s threat as it continues its M&A tear.

  • About 48% of health system executives view Optum as an “extreme threat” and 28% view it as a “moderate threat,” per a 2021 Kaufman Hall report.
  • That’s far more than the 18% of execs who view Amazon as an extreme threat, for instance.

Zooming out: Legacy insurers like UHG will need to address the effects of inflation and economic downturn. That could mean higher costs for customers or in-network providers.

During UHG’s Q2 call, Brian Thompson, CEO of UHG’s UnitedHealthcare, said the company’s “forward view of cost includes inflation.” Thompson also noted that the company is “certainly respectful of what we're seeing in terms of labor cost with our provider partners. And as you might expect, obviously, with long-term agreements, there will be more impact in 2023 than 2022.”

Editor's note: We updated this article on July 19, 2022 to correct UHG's revenue figures to billions versus millions.