A look into UnitedHealth's M&A deals

UnitedHealth Group and its subsidiary Optum have proposed several acquisitions and partnerships recently, giving a glimpse into its mergers and acquisitions growth strategy. 

Most recently, UnitedHealth Group's Optum agreed to buy Lafayette, La.-based home-health firm LHC Group. The deal will allow UnitedHealth to strengthen its ability to provide value-based care in patients' homes. LHC's 30,000 employees, including front-line caregivers, administrative and support personnel, would join Optum. 

UnitedHealth Group's Optum also reportedly bought Refresh Mental Health from a private equity firm. Jacksonville Beach, Fla.-based Refresh Mental Health runs a network of more than 300 outpatient sites across 37 states and has more than 1,500 employees.

With the acquisitions, UnitedHealth has a clear strategy. As hospital spending grows to be a larger portion of gross domestic product, the insurer has been adding physicians, home health and other healthcare services as a way to control expenses, Reuters reported. 

UnitedHealth Group's OptumInsight unit is also looking to grow through an acquisition, although the Justice Department filed a lawsuit attempting to block the deal. Under the proposed deal, Change Healthcare would join OptumInsight to provide software, data analytics, advisory and revenue cycle management offerings to clients. OptumInsight is mounting its defense against the Justice Department's challenge to its proposed $13 billion acquisition, arguing the government's case is "flawed." 

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit challenging the acquisition Feb. 24, alleging the transaction would harm competition in commercial markets, make coverage more costly for millions of people and give UnitedHealth too much power in electronic data transactions.

UnitedHealth Group issued a public statement on the case March 17, saying the Justice Department's lawsuit is based on theories with "no basis in fact and law."

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