After Closing On LHC Group Deal, Optum Looks To Capitalize On Home-Based Care Capabilities

Home-based care is more important than ever at UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH).

There are a few ways this is showing up — most notably through its $5.4 billion purchase of LHC Group. The transaction officially closed in February.

“Our recent combination with LHC Group expands in-home capabilities,” Dirk McMahon, president and COO of UnitedHealth Group, said during the company’s first-quarter earnings call Friday. “LHC provides high-quality, compassionate home health, hospice and post-acute care services, with over 12 million patient encounters each year. We will learn from and build upon LHC’s capabilities, expanding the scope and acuity of the care we can provide in a patient’s home.”


McMahon grouped in the acquisition with part of a larger opportunity to “more deeply and effectively” serve patients in the home setting.

He also noted that nearly all of the patients the organization will add in fully accountable value-based relationships this year will have access to support through its home-based care platform.

“We expect to serve more than four million patients in fully accountable value-based care arrangements through Optum, about double where we were at the end of 2021,” UnitedHealth Group CEO Andrew Witty said during the call.


UnitedHealth Group has also expanded its at-home care capabilities elsewhere. One of the ways the organization is doing so is through at-home patient assessments.

“In-home clinical visits designed to identify care needs and help patients with other physical and social needs,” McMahon said. “This year, we expect to make more than 2.5 million visits to patients’ homes, and we continue to expand the scope of the clinical services offered in that setting.”

Another way is through a focus on care transitions.

“This entails supporting patients into and through post-acute settings, helping people to avoid hospital readmissions after an inpatient stay,” McMahon said. “This year, we will manage nearly 12 million care transitions, about twice as many as just three years ago. This plays an important role in helping people return safely home, and in connecting patients with additional in-home support.”

The company is also expanding home-based capabilities through individual care and coordination for dual-eligible and chronic special needs patients.

“These patients frequently require a more individualized approach to care,” McMahon said. “On average, these patients are managing nine different chronic conditions and taking multiple medications. Our high touch approach leads to better outcomes, including over 15% reduction in hospitalizations and high patient satisfaction.”

UNH earnings and future growth potential

As for Optum, its Q1 revenues grew to $54.1 billion, compared to $43.3 billion during the same period last year.

The revenue increase is partly driven by growth in the number of people served under value-based care arrangements.

Looking ahead, UnitedHealth Group — being both payer and provider — may find it more difficult to grow on its insurance side.

In order to see continued and significant growth, UnitedHealth Group will need to gain new members, or acquire other payers.

The latter is something that is becoming increasingly more difficult in light of more government oversight. For instance, Aetna’s planned acquisition of Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) was nixed in 2017. Anthem Inc. – now Elevance Health (NYSE: ELV) – announced that it would no longer seek to acquire Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) in the same year.

For UnitedHealth Group, that may mean putting cash on hand toward health care services growth at Optum. Now that it has LHC Group under its belt, it will be worth watching what acquisition may come next.

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