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UnitedHealth to create a next-generation pharmacy care company

CEO Stephem Hemsley: Company will look beyond health insurance to find profit in new and expanded business lines

Now that UnitedHealth's purchase of Catamaran, the fourth-largest pharmacy-benefit manager (PBM) in the country, is almost complete, company execs say that they're planning to create a next-generation pharmacy care business that's more integrated and member-focused.

The UnitedHealth-Catamaran PBM will focus on more than just "filling prescriptions," Larry Renfro, UnitedHealth's vice chairman and CEO of its Optum business, said during a call discussing the insurer's second quarter earnings.

Rather, the company will pursue a "comprehensive, whole-person approach that integrates data, information, analytics and clinical care insight to support care treatments and compliance."

UnitedHealth's Q2 revenues grew 11 percent year-over-year to exceed $36 billion, as FierceHealthPayer previously reported, partly because of its growing management of 600 million prescriptions annually.

"We are committed to creating a next-generation pharmacy care services company. The addition of Catamaran accelerates our efforts significantly," Renfro said on the call. "We needed scale and that's what we're going to have" with Catamaran.

Additionally, UnitedHealth CEO Stephem Hemsley said during the call that the insurer is expanding other businesses, even though it's not participating in the current merger and acquisition frenzy in the health insurance industry.

"We have been building our business and diversifying our businesses across the landscape of our business model for several years and we can expect to continue those approaches," Hemsley said. He added that the company will "continue to deploy capital in ways that we think make sense for us."

One move UnitedHealth is taking to expand its reach in the healthcare industry is to get into the patient care business. Through its Optum unit, UnitedHealth has also become the biggest independent provider of urgent care.

To learn more:
- listen to the UnitedHealth call recording

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