UnitedHealth's second-quarter growth all about expanding beyond insurance business

UnitedHealth Group posted its second-quarter earnings Thursday, and it's clear the nation's largest for-profit health insurer continues to focus some of its efforts beyond the insurance business.

The insurer's Q2 revenues grew 11 percent year-over-year to exceed $36 billion--the insurer also grew to serve 1.6 million more people, including 175,000 in Q2.

Of mention is the insurer's thriving Optum business, which racked up $26.4 billion in the first half of 2015, growing 15 percent year-over-year. Earnings from operations totaled $1.6 billion with 17 percent growth. Both UnitedHealthcare and Optum produced double-digit percentage increases in revenue and earnings from operations over the six-month period, the insurer notes.

Additionally, UnitedHealth updated its 2015 financial outlook to include the insurer's anticipated purchase of pharmacy benefit management services company Catamaran Corp. for about $12.8 billion. The insurer will merge its pharmacy care services business, OptumRx, with Catamaran--Catamaran expects to fill roughly 400 million prescriptions in 2015, while OptumRx will fill close to 600 million scripts, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

Based on the updated outlook, UnitedHealth projects 2015 revenues of nearly $154 billion--an increase of nearly $11 billion from the previous outlook. Thanks to outstanding business performance, the insurer expects net earnings to range from $6.25 to $6.35 per share. Anticipated 2015 cash flows from operations should from $8.4 billion to $8.6 billion, an increase of $200 million from the previous outlook.

UnitedHealth's Medicare program came in strong, with 7.2 million members receiving benefits through Medicare Advantage (MA) and Medicare Supplement offerings. The program experienced Q2 revenues of $12.6 billion and grew $774 million year-over-year. UnitedHealth's MA program added 200,000 more beneficiaries in the first half of 2015, while Medicare Supplement products served 215,000 more individuals, including 35,000 in Q2.

Amid merger and consolidation talks, UnitedHealth's Q2 earnings reiterate that the insurer will be sitting pretty regardless of whether it strikes a deal to acquire a smaller competitor.

For more:
- here's the earnings report statement

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