With Amedisys Deal Pending, Justice Department Opens Antitrust Investigation Into UnitedHealth Group

The Department of Justice is targeting UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) in an antitrust investigation, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. 

Specifically, the Justice Department is interviewing subjects around interactions between UnitedHealth Group and its health care provider services arm, Optum.

UnitedHealthcare is one of the largest insurers in the country. Meanwhile, Optum is one of the larger provider organizations in the country. With both under the same umbrella, regulators have grown concerned over the competitive advantage UnitedHealth Group may have in certain markets.


“The investigators have in recent weeks been interviewing health care industry representatives in sectors where UnitedHealth competes, including doctor groups, according to people with knowledge of the meetings,” the WSJ report read. “During their interviews, investigators have asked about issues including certain relationships between the company’s UnitedHealthcare insurance unit and its Optum health-services-arm, which owns physician groups, among other assets. Investigators have asked about possible impacts of the company’s doctor-group acquisitions on rivals and consumers, the people said.”

Optum and UnitedHealthcare both have asserted that they regularly work with each other’s competitors, and don’t lend favors to each other.

This may or may not have an effect on the home health market. UnitedHealth Group – and Optum – has been one of the most active acquirers of health care providers over the last decade-plus.


It entered into home health dealmaking when it acquired LHC Group – one of the largest home health and hospice providers in the country – for $5.4 billion in February of last year. After that, it agreed to acquire another home health giant, Amedisys Inc. (Nasdaq: AMED), for $3.3 billion last June.

The Amedisys deal is still pending.

Though Optum would only own about 10% of the home health market with both LHC Group and Amedisys, it would still be the largest owner of home health assets in the country.

Last October, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) asked antitrust regulators to take a closer look at the Amedisys deal.

“We urge DOJ and FTC to closely scrutinize UnitedHealth’s proposed acquisition of Amedisys and oppose the growing trend of insurers buying up health care providers to reduce competition and pad their profits at the expense of their patients,” Warren and Jayapal reportedly wrote in a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) at the time.

Companies featured in this article:

, , ,