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Q3 results show Optum continues to serve UnitedHealth well

Revenue for insurer's health services unit jumped 61 percent

UnitedHealth Group's third-quarter earnings results make it clear that the nation's largest insurer continues to get a significant boost from its health services business.

The company's overall Q3 revenue grew 27 percent year over year to $41.5 billion, an improvement from the 11 percent year-over-year growth it reported in Q2. Its net earnings in the quarter were $1.65 per share, and cash flows from operations were $2.8 billion.

Analysts had projected a per-share profit of $1.64 and revenue of $40.17 billion, the Wall Street Journal notes.

Revenue from UnitedHealth's Optum unit, meanwhile, jumped 61 percent to $19.3 billion in Q3, driven in part by the company's recent acquisition of the pharmacy benefit manager Catamaran Corp. With the acquisition, UnitedHealth planned to merge its pharmacy care services business, OptumRx, with Catamaran.

In a statement on the earnings report, UnitedHealth CEO Stephen J. Hemsley emphasized the company's focus on diversification.

"Our 2015 results are reflecting balanced growth across a diversity of businesses and product categories," he said. "We believe this growth will continue because we are serving people more effectively, simplifying their healthcare experiences, and offering practical innovations that help deliver more value to the consumer and the healthcare system as a whole."

The insurer also grew to serve 290,000 more people in the third quarter, bringing its total new customers up to 1.7 million for the year.

UnitedHealth is the only insurer out of the country's five largest to stay out of the recent merger frenzy, which has seen Aetna make a deal to acquire Humana and Anthem link up with Cigna. But the company's growing Optum business and its massive scale mean it likely doesn't need to pursue a transaction to be well-positioned for growth.

To learn more:
- here's the earnings report
- read the Wall Street Journal article

Related Articles:
UnitedHealth's second-quarter growth all about expanding beyond insurance business
UnitedHealth to buy pharmacy benefit manager Catamaran for $12.8B
However health insurance deals shake out, UnitedHealth likely to come out on top
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