UnitedHealth closes acquisition of Change Healthcare

Just weeks after securing a federal court win allowing their merger to go forward, UnitedHealth Group has completed its controversial acquisition of Change Healthcare.

The insurance giant announced the deal's closure on Monday morning. In the release, UnitedHealth touts the companies' shared vision for making the healthcare system simpler and more adaptive to the needs of payers, providers and patients.

"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," UHG said in the release.

In mid-September, the merger beat a challenge from the Department of Justice on antitrust grounds, and a federal judge gave the companies the go-ahead to close pending the divestiture of Change's ClaimsXten business.

DOJ argued that if the deal closed, UnitedHealth would have access to a bevy of data on competitor health plans, which it could use to gain a competitive advantage. It also said that the potential for UnitedHealth to misuse its competitors' data would push other insurers to be less innovative.

Judge Carl Nelson, however, ruled that the feds failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove its theory. UnitedHealth executives testified that they already have access to competitors' data through Optum's payer-agnostic services and that misusing that data would deal a significant financial blow to the company.

Nelson noted in his opinion that executives at multiple competitors, including Cigna, Aetna and Anthem, testified that UnitedHealth's acquisition of Change would not lead them to stifle innovation.

The two companies first announced plans to merge in January 2021.