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Absent Obamacare markets, UnitedHealth posts strong earnings

Optum saw solid operating margins across all business segments, including OptumCare, which accounts for over half of Optum's revenues.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

UnitedHealth Group released strong financial results for its third quarter Tuesday, marking a change since the nation's largest insurer unsaddled itself from most Obamacare markets.

Third quarter revenues grew by $4.8 billion, or 12 percent year-over-year, to $46.3 billion, according to UnitedHealth. Revenues from operations grew by 19 percent.

The results reflect well-balanced growth and steady execution across its diverse business, the nation's largest insurer said.

"Our growth indicators are positive as we conclude 2016, and we expect to be well positioned in 2017 to better serve consumers and deliver more value to the health system overall," CEO Stephen J. Hemsley said in a released statement.

During UnitedHealth Group's second quarter, reported revenues grew 28 percent, or $10.2 billion year-over-year to $46.5 billion, but that figure was countered by losses in the Affordable Care Act market that were $200 million beyond projections.

UnitedHealth Group has withdrawn its exchange product from numerous states.

[Also: UnitedHealth shows strong revenue growth but $200 million more in ACA losses than predicted]

Growth in the third quarter was spurred by the insurer's health services business, Optum, which showed revenue growth of $1.8 billion, or 9 percent, to $21.1 billion year-over-year.

Optum saw solid operating margins across all business segments, including OptumCare, which accounts for over half of Optum's revenues.

[Also: Optum ranked top healthcare revenue cycle vendor in new Black Book ratings]

"You should expect to see us continue to build out OptumCare market-by-market, to emerge as a national platform for primary care-driven ambulatory care services," Optum CEO Larry Renfro said in a released statement. "We aim to expand our care delivery through owned or affiliated clinics to more than 75 local markets, where more than 200 million people reside."

OptumHealth revenues grew 23 percent year-over-year due in part to the expansion of behavioral services into new Medicaid markets.
OptumHealth recently received a multi-billion dollar award from the Veterans Administration to conduct medical disability exams for servicemen and women for a period of up to five years, Renfro said.

OptumInsight revenues grew 15 percent; and OptumRx revenues grew 6 percent.

With a new partner in Quest Diagnostics, Optum360 covers all facets of revenue cycle from the receipt of doctors' lab orders through billing and cash collections from health plans, payers and consumers, Renfro said.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse