The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched an antitrust probe into UnitedHealth Group, scrutinising the health insurance giant’s expansion and acquisitions, reported Bloomberg, citing sources.  

The probe focuses on the US company’s growing influence across various healthcare sectors including pharmacy benefits, medical care and technology services. 

Concerns have been raised regarding UnitedHealth’s acquisitions of healthcare providers and data companies.  

The company, known for its UnitedHealthcare insurance unit that covers more than 47 million Americans, has declined to comment on the investigation, and so has the Justice Department. 

UnitedHealth’s growth has been driven by its Optum arm, which includes clinics, home care services, drug plans and pharmacies.  

These services often cater to UnitedHealthcare members, converting insurance business expenses into revenue for Optum.  

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Although successful for UnitedHealth, this strategy has attracted scrutiny from antitrust regulators. 

The DOJ is also reviewing UnitedHealth’s planned $3.3bn purchase of home health provider Amedisys, following last year’s acquisition of rival LHC Group.  

In 2022, the department unsuccessfully sued to block UnitedHealth’s acquisition of Change Healthcare, a major electronic data clearinghouse. 

UnitedHealth executives maintain that there is a strict separation between the insurance business and Optum services.  

They highlight that Optum also provides services to various insurance companies that compete with UnitedHealthcare. 

UnitedHealth is currently under investigation, audit or review by more than a dozen US authorities, including the DOJ, as disclosed in the company’s regulatory filings.  

In December 2023, UnitedHealth agreed to sell its Brazilian health insurance business, Amil, to businessman Jose Seripieri Filho in a transaction valued at approximately $2.24bn.