How UnitedHealth Group became the nation's largest healthcare company

UnitedHealth Group has the highest stock price per share on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, it's the 10th heaviest-weighted stock on the S&P 500, and it's the largest healthcare company in the nation by market cap and revenue — the Minnesota-based healthcare giant achieved this through strategic vision and capital management, CNBC reported May 20.

The report noted that the acquisition strategies of competitors such as Aetna, Elevance Health, Cigna and Humana have been challenged by regulators in the past, but UnitedHealth has been most successful with its vertical-integration strategy. The company was cleared to purchase data and analytics firm Change Healthcare for $7.8 billion in the fall despite an antitrust lawsuit from the Justice Department. It closed on its $5.4 billion acquisition of home health firm LHC Group in February.

Healthcare analysts told CNBC the company's size has made it mostly immune from economic downturns.

"I think at this point we would consider UnitedHealth Group just kind of like ... core health infrastructure at this point in America," Matt Stoller, director of research at the American Economic Liberties Project, told CNBC.

UnitedHealth Group reported $20.6 billion in net earnings in 2022, a 16 percent increase year over year, and it expects to earn up to $360 billion in revenue in 2023. The company consists of two main divisions: UnitedHealthcare and Optum.

UnitedHealthcare had 52.9 million medical insurance members at the end of the first quarter of 2023, more than any insurer in the nation. The payer also has the largest share of Medicare Advantage membership, with 7.5 million members at the end of the first quarter of 2023. 

Optum is made up of three core divisions: Optum Health, Optum Insight and OptumRx. Optum Health served 103 million customers in the first quarter of 2023. The company employs or is affiliated with more than 70,000 physicians across 2,200 locations in 2023. 

Read more about UnitedHealth Group here.

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