UnitedHealth’s Business is Booming Heading Into 2022

Last week, UnitedHealth Group (UHG) reported its full-year financial results for 2021, defending its title as the most profitable US healthcare company while serving as the earnings season bellwether for the broader industry.

Between its UnitedHealthcare payor operations and its Optum hybrid care service lines, UnitedHealth Group pulled in $287.6B in revenue for the year (up 11.8%), beating their initial projections by about $10B.

UnitedHealthcare is the nation’s largest commercial payor, and the company spent a lot of time in its conference call highlighting its success in Medicare Advantage (MA).

  • UHG leads the MA space with 7.9M members, adding 800M in 2021 alone. Over the past year, total MA plan enrollment grew 8.8% to 28.5M beneficiaries, meaning that UHG accounted for nearly 1 in 3 new members – a huge revenue boost from the government at $1,000/patient/month.

Optum’s fast-growing health services business was no less impressive, serving 100M people at year end 2021 while growing revenue per consumer by 33% as it expanded the reach of its value-based care arrangements.

  • UHG spent $100M in 2021 helping partners prepare for value-based contracts. This investment was divided between three primary work streams (clinician training, tech enhancements, network coordination), with similar investments expected this year.

The Forecast for 2022

Looking ahead to the rest of 2022, it’s difficult to forecast a scenario where UHG doesn’t continue its momentum. In the past few months the company’s expansion has only accelerated, with UnitedHealthcare debuting a virtual-first health plan NavigateNOW and Optum moving into the direct-to-consumer pharmacy arena.

UNG expects its 2022 revenue to grow roughly 10%, falling between $317B and $320B, and there’s even a kicker. That projection doesn’t include any gains from the pending acquisition of Change Healthcare for $8B, which has its April approval deadline quickly approaching.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team