50 things to know about UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group is the largest insurer in the United States by membership and the largest employer of physicians in the country. 

Here's 50 things to know about the healthcare giant: 

Editor's note: This story was originally published in June 2023 and updated with new information Feb. 29, 2024. 


  1. The company was founded by physicians and other healthcare professionals in Minnetonka, Minn., in 1974 under the name Charter Med Corporation.

  2. The company traces its roots to Paul Ellwood, MD, the physician who coined the term "health maintenance organization." Richard Burke, who founded Charter Med, was a researcher at Dr. Ellwood's Minneapolis-based think tank. 

  3. Three years later, UnitedHealthcare was created and became the parent company of Charter Med.

  4. UnitedHealthcare became a public company in 1984.

  5. The company rebranded as UnitedHealth Group in 1998.

  6. UnitedHealth Group acquired several health insurers and practices through the 1990s and 2000s. Notable acquisitions include MetraHealth, the healthcare operations of Travelers Insurance and Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in 1995; Medicaid managed care company AmeriChoice in 2002; PacifiCare Health Systems in 2005; and Sierra Health Services in 2007.

  7. UnitedHealth Group created Optum, its health services arm, in 2011.

Fast facts 

  1. UnitedHealth Group is ranked No. 5 on the Fortune 500, behind Walmart, Amazon and Apple but just ahead of CVS Health.

  2. The company employs 440,000 people worldwide.

  3. UnitedHealth Group is headquartered in Minnetonka, Minn.

  4. In 2023, around 55 percent of the company's revenue came from UnitedHealthcare, with the remaining from Optum.

  5. UnitedHealth Group made $22.4 billion in net earnings in 2023, a 11% increase year over year.

Recent headlines 

  1. UnitedHealth Group is the subject of an antitrust investigation by the Justice Department, The Wall Street Journal reported in February 2024. Justice Department investigators have interviewed healthcare industry representatives in UnitedHealth competition sectors in recent weeks, which includes physician groups, the publication reported. Investigator questions during the interviews have included specific relationships between UnitedHealthcare and Optum, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

  2. Optum's Change Healthcare was hacked by a ransomware gang, the company confirmed Feb. 29. ALPHV/Blackcat, aka BlackCat, claimed responsibility for the hack and is purported to have stolen 6 terabytes of data. The outage, which began Feb. 21, created major disruptions at pharmacies and hospitals nationwide. The outage was ongoing as of Feb. 29. 

  3.  St. Louis-based SSM Health and UnitedHealth Group's Optum ended their administrative partnership around inpatient care management, digital transformation and revenue cycle management, an SSM Health spokesperson confirmed to Becker's in January. 

  4. Emanate Health accused Optum of pressuring the system not to compete with Optum in the primary care business and of steering patients away from their physicians who left Optum to join Emanate's practices. The Covina, Calif.-based health system filed a lawsuit in federal court in California in November 2023 accusing Optum of anticompetitive practices. 

  5.  UnitedHealth Group and UnitedHealthcare are facing a proposed class-action lawsuit alleging an AI algorithm wrongfully denied Medicare Advantage patients care. The families of two deceased UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage members alleged their relatives were wrongfully denied coverage of medically necessary post-acute care by UnitedHealthcare. NaviHealth, the developer of the algorithm, is also named in the suit.

  6. UnitedHealthcare began a wave of prior authorization cuts in fall 2023, eliminating 20% of its current prior authorization requirements. 

  7. MedExpress Urgent Care, a Optum-owned chain of clinics, eliminated all nursing positions at nearly 150 facilities nationwide in August. 

  8. Eli Lilly surpassed UnitedHealth Group as the largest healthcare company in the world by market share in July 2023.

  9. UnitedHealth Group's 20-acre Minnetonka, Minn., headquarters is up for lease. The company plans to consolidate its headquarters with Optum's campus in nearby Eden Prairie. UnitedHealthcare will continue to be based in Minnetonka. 

  10. UnitedHealth Group and Walmart are partnering on a value-based care model for Medicare Advantage members and launching a co-branded health plan. The 10-year collaboration will begin in 2023 at 15 Walmart Health centers in Florida and Georgia.


  1. Andrew Witty is CEO of UnitedHealth Group. He was named CEO in February 2021 and was previously CEO of pharmaceutical manufacturer GSK.

  2. Mr. Witty was paid $20.9 million in total compensation in 2022.

  3. The CEO-to-median-employee pay ratio at UnitedHealth Group in 2022 was 331-to-1.

  4. John Rex is CFO of UnitedHealth Group, a role he has held since 2016.

  5. Mr. Rex was paid $15.8 million in total compensation in 2022.

  6. Dirk McMahon is COO of UnitedHealth Group, a role he has held since 2021. In February, Mr. McMahon announced his intent to retire in April 2024.

  7. Mr. McMahon was paid $15.8 million in total compensation in 2022.

  8. Former UnitedHealth Group CEO Stephen Hemsely is chair of the company's nine-member board of directors.


  1. UnitedHealthcare had 52.7 million medical insurance members at the end of 2023.

  2.  The company was the largest commercial payer by total membership as of the end of 2023.

  3. UnitedHealthcare has the largest share of Medicare Advantage membership, with around 1 in 4 MA beneficiaries enrolled in a UnitedHealthcare plan in 2022, according to KFF.

  4. UnitedHealthcare had 7.7 million Medicare Advantage members at the end of 2023.

  5. UnitedHealthcare had 27.3 million commercial members in the U.S. at the end of 2023.

  6. The company had 7.8 million Medicaid members at the end of 2023.

  7. Brian Thompson is CEO of UnitedHealthcare. He became CEO of the division in 2021 and joined UnitedHealthcare in 2004.

  8. Mr. Thompson was paid $9.9 million in total compensation in 2022.


  1. Optum is made up of three core divisions: Optum Health, Optum Insight and OptumRx.

  2. Optum is the largest employer of physicians in the United States, with at least 90,000 employed or aligned physicians at 2,200 locations in 2023. 

  3. Optum Health served 103 million customers in the fourth quarter of 2023.

  4. Optum Rx filled 400 million prescriptions in the fourth quarter of 2023.

  5. Optum is headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minn.

  6. Health Cianfrocco is President of Optum. She was previously CEO of OptumRx.

  7. Three leaders head each of Optum's divisions: Patrick Conway, MD, is CEO of OptumRx, Roger Connor is CEO of Optum Insight, and Amar Desai, MD, leads Optum Health.

Recent acquisitions

  1. Optum is seeking to acquire physician-owned Corvallis (Ore.) Clinic.

  2. Optum and healthcare data and analytics company Change Healthcare merged in October 2022. The $7.8 billion merger faced scrutiny from antitrust regulators. UnitedHealth Group spent $100 million to integrate Change Healthcare and Optum.

  3. In February 2023, UnitedHealth Group completed a $5.4 billion acquisition of home-health company LHC Group.

  4. A planned $1.5 billion acquisition of U.K.-based EMIS group was under review by the country's regulators in March 2023, but the investigation found the acquisition would not decrease competition, and it closed in October.

  5. Optum purchased Houston-based medical group Kelsey-Seybold in 2022.


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