What UnitedHealth Group's CEO has said about the UHC-Optum relationship

The Justice Department reportedly has opened an antitrust investigation into UnitedHealth Group and in recent weeks has been interviewing healthcare industry representatives about issues including relationships between the company's UnitedHealthcare and Optum units. 

UnitedHealth Group has not commented on the reported investigation, but the company's CEO, Andrew Witty, previously testified about the relationship between UnitedHealthcare and Optum.

Mr. Witty gave testimony in August 2022 during the Justice Department's legal challenge of the merger between the company's OptumInsight arm and Change Healthcare. In his testimony, Mr. Witty said OptumInsight and the other companies under the Optum umbrella are kept "strictly at arms' length," adding that the insurer and unit operate in a supplier-purchaser relationship rather than as two parts of an enterprise. 

He said OptumInsight develops data products for rival insurers as well as for UnitedHealthcare, its primary customer. He said boosting UnitedHealthcare would inhibit Optum's ability to grow, which is dependent on its capacity to sell to everyone else.  

The Justice Department in that case was seeking to block the merger, arguing it would harm competition in commercial markets, raise costs for millions of people and give UnitedHealth too much power in electronic data transactions. 

A Washington, D.C., federal judge ultimately ruled in favor of the merger, which was completed in October 2022. 

The Justice Department and UnitedHealth did not respond to requests for comment from Becker's regarding the reported investigation. 

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