Can UnitedHealth Find New Growth?

Much like the aristocracy during the French Revolution, HMO executives aren’t making a lot of public appearances these days. The closest that UnitedHealth ( UNH – news – people ) Chief Stephen Hemsley (pictured right) came recently was when his disembodied voice crackled over a Web broadcast of the company’s annual investor day in December. “Darwin would say that these legislative events are part of the health care environment, and those that will thrive must adapt,” he said. Indeed they must. HMO stocks had been taking a beating out of fear that the White House would either put insurers out of business with a public plan or regulate away the profits. Yet now, with the health overhaul legislation on ice, you’d think that United, the largest, most profitable firm–whose stock rose a hundredfold from 1990 to 2005–would return to business as usual. Don’t count on it. [Read the full article]

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UnitedHealth Group Inc.s OptumHealth business unit has purchased a health screener called Wellness Inc. Wellness, a 23-year old company based in Aurora, Ill., emphasizes preventative care to manage employee health, offering biometric screenings, flu vaccinations and lifestyle-health assessments in the workplace and has more than 1,000 company clients. UnitedHealth didn’t disclose how many employees or how much revenue this acquisition will add. OptumHealth Care Solutions CEO Rob Webb said in a press release that the acquisition will create a wellness offering to help employees understand and improve their health. Employers benefit from increased employee productivity and attendance and lower medical costs and turnover. OptumHealth is based in Golden Valley. UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is based in Minnetonka. Its stock price was down 22 cents, or less than 2 percent to $33.40 per share in mid-morning trading. 2010 American City Business Journals, Inc. [Read the full article]

— Aetna charitable giving arm funds two grants totaling $250,000 to the Institute of Medicine and AcademyHealth —

The Aetna Foundation today announced two grants totaling $250,000 as part of its continuing efforts to establish racial and ethnic equity in health and health care. The elimination of health and health care disparities is one of three primary focus areas of the Aetna Foundation grant-making.

“The Aetna Foundation has been at the forefront of supporting action to advance the science and establish racial and ethnic equity in health care for the better part of a decade through financial support of projects and programs that seek solutions to this persistent problem in our health care system,” said Anne C. Beal, M.D., M.P.H., president, Aetna Foundation, Inc. [Read the full article]

Genoptix, Inc. (Nasdaq:GXDX – News) today announced that it will participate in Aetna’s (AET) national provider network to offer specialized laboratory and comprehensive diagnostic services designed to optimize the care of patients suffering from hematomalignancies, or cancers of the blood and bone marrow, including leukemia and lymphoma.

As a result, physicians will have additional choices for in-network specialty lab services for Aetna members. Aetna members could also benefit from lower out-of-pocket costs for Genoptix’s laboratory services since copays, deductibles and coinsurance will be based on their in-network benefit levels and established rates for Genoptix’s laboratory services.  The three-year agreement with Aetna, one of the nation’s largest health benefits companies serving 19 million medical members, is effective April 1, 2010. Additional terms of the contract were not disclosed. [Read the full article]

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