Optum's Q4 beat UnitedHealthcare for past 5 years

Since 2015, UnitedHealth Group's Optum unit has outpaced its insurance arm in fourth-quarter profit, according to financial filings.

The trend, first reported by Axios' Bob Herman, signals UnitedHealth's investments in health services, analytics, pharmacy and physicians may one day be more profitable than its hallmark insurance program.

Year over year, UnitedHealthcare is still more profitable than Optum. In the fourth quarter, insurers' medical claims are more expensive as members reach their deductibles.

Here's a look at fourth-quarter profit for Optum versus UnitedHealthcare for the past five years:

Optum: $3.0 billion
UnitedHealthcare: $2.1 billion

Optum: $2.7 billion
UnitedHealthcare: $1.8 billion

Optum: $2.2 billion
UnitedHealthcare: $1.8 billion

Optum: $1.8 billion
UnitedHealthcare: $1.7 billion

Optum: $1.5 billion
UnitedHealthcare: $949 million

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