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UnitedHealth Group buys pharmacy and telepsychiatry provider Genoa Healthcare

Insurer's pharmacy benefits business OptumRx will take over Genoa, which specializes in behavioral health and addiction treatment.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

WHAT HAPPENED

UnitedHealth Group has acquired pharmacy company Genoa Healthcare from the Boston-based Advent International for about $2.5 billion, according to news first reported by Bloomberg.

Genoa is combining with UnitedHealth's pharmacy benefits business, OptumRx, according to a statement from OptumRx.

Genoa, headquartered in Renton, Washington, has over 300 pharmacies nationwide and serves more than 650,000 individuals. It specializes in behavioral health, addiction treatment and chronic health conditions and offers telepsychiatry and medication management services.

One of its main benefits is a prescription adherence rate of more than 90 percent. Genoa boasts a reduction in emergency room visits of 40 percent and hospitalizations by 18 percent.

It uses special packaging personalized for each consumer, makes outreach calls, delivers medications and takes care of prior authorizations. The pharmacist is integrated with the care team and Genoa can track medication adherence online.

WHY THIS MATTERS

UnitedHealth Group reportedly beat out other companies, including Walgreens Boot Alliance, in acquiring Genoa.

Health insurers taking on pharmacies, as well as pharmacy benefit managers, has been a popular vehicle for vertical integration as a way to control costs. It also gives insurers access to timely data and is a way to diversify their business, a Moody's report said.

THE TREND

There's been much jockeying between insurers and PBMs. The one most closely watched is CVS Health's $69 billion proposal to buy Aetna.

Cigna recently merged with Express Scripts. Cigna's current PBM is OptumRx. And last year, Anthem dropped Express Scripts by establishing its own pharmacy benefits manager with CVS Health, IngenioRx.

ON THE RECORD

"To help better support the pharmacy needs of patients with behavioral health and substance use disorders, OptumRx is combining with Genoa Healthcare," OptumRx said. "This will help ensure improved access, health outcomes and pharmacy, telepsychiatry, and medication management experiences for consumers across the country, including Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, while helping public and private sector payers reduce their healthcare costs."
 
THEIR TAKE

OptumRx isn't saying anything beyond its statement and it doesn't have to. 

OUR TAKE

Genoa's highly-desirable resume makes it the right purchase at the right time.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com

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