Optum completes $13 billion acquisition of Change Healthcare

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | October 10, 2022
Business Affairs Health IT
Optum has completed its $13 billion acquisition of Change Healthcare.
Optum has completed its $13 billion acquisition of Change Healthcare.

The closing of the deal ends a months-long legal battle with the Department of Justice, which sued in an unsuccessful attempt to block it from moving forward.

“The combination will connect and simplify the core clinical, administrative and payment processes health care providers and payers depend on to serve patients. Increasing efficiency and reducing friction will benefit the entire health system, resulting in lower costs and a better experience for all stakeholders,” said Optum in a statement.

The companies announced the merger in January 2021, with Optum paying $8 billion, plus an additional $5 billion for Change’s debts.

Optum is a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group (UHG), the owner of the largest U.S. healthcare insurance provider, UnitedHealthcare. Concerns from other organizations about the deal creating a monopoly for UHG and hindering competition in the health IT space led the Justice Department to launch an investigation in March 2021.

It filed its suit to block the deal a year later in March 2022, saying that it would harm competition in commercial health insurance markets and in the sale of technology used by insurers to process claims and reduce healthcare costs.

“If America’s largest health insurer is permitted to acquire a major rival for critical healthcare claims technologies, it will undermine competition for health insurance and stifle innovation in the employer health insurance markets,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland at the time.

Optum and Change pushed back the merger date to December 2022, but a judge ruled in favor of it in September, allowing the two to proceed, according to Healthcare Finance.

"We are pleased with the decision and look forward to combining with Change Healthcare as quickly as possible so that together we can continue our work to make the health system work better for everyone,” said UHG following the decision.

Optum will speed up and make services more accurate by integrating its advanced data analytics with Change’s intelligent healthcare network to collect more insights from billions of claims. It also will utilize Change’s payment capacities to simplify transactions in its automated payment network, creating more transparency in real time and enhancing IT workflow.

It will divest Change’s claims editing business of ClaimsXten to TPG Capital, which is also a condition of the court order.

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