Surgical Care Affiliates' total joints in ASCs up 39% in Q3

OptumCare, which has become the largest portion of OptumHealth, continues to grow.

OptumHealth reported third quarter revenue jumped 34.4 percent year over year, hitting $8.1 billion due to the expansion of behavioral health and overall line growth. OptumCare's mission is to form physician-led health systems that lower the cost of care and deliver a great patient experience while maintaining good outcomes.

"We empower primary care doctors with insights and information by focusing on proactive, preventative medicine," said Andrew Witty, CEO of Optum, during UnitedHealthcare's third quarter earnings call, as transcribed by Seeking Alpha. "We surround them with high-performing specialists and provide in-home and outpatient services to care for people at the optimal site of service."

Surgical Care Affiliates is part of OptumCare and includes several surgery centers nationwide. During the call, Mr. Witty said SCA's third quarter cardiovascular operations were up 13 percent and spine procedures grew 14 percent year over year. Total joint replacements jumped 39 percent during the quarter as compared to last year. "That's an example of one other element of [the OptumCare] portfolio in a significant point of growth for us and it fits very nicely within the cluster of other services we offer in key geographies and part of our comprehensive services for patients."

During the call, Mr. Witty detailed a few case studies of communities where the company provides a full range of capabilities, including Southern California where OptumCare serves 1.5 million people with value-based arrangements. The platform serves 30 payers in a network of aligned physicians, 100 clinics and 30 ASCs. OptumCare also co-created the product Harmony with UnitedHealthcare; Harmony was designed to bring patient care and coverage together for a 20 percent savings when compared with UnitedHealthcare's comparable coverage.

In Southern Nevada, OptumCare expanded its physician base by around 60 percent over the past three years and its physicians deliver care to 85 percent of the population that are in capitated arrangements. Mr. Witty reported that OptumCare's cost of care was 10 percent lower than the competition among the commercial population in Southern Nevada.

He also revealed that a new region for the company, New Jersey, is integrating MedExpress urgent care centers and partnering it with OptumCare's ASCs to realize 15 percent lower cost of care than peers in the commercial market and around 10 percent lower costs in the Medicaid population.

In summary, Mr. Witty said: "We will further expand and deepen our local presence, aligning and integrating our capabilities across OptumCare as well as Optum more broadly in areas, including specialty pharmacy, behavioral health services and community-based pharmacy dispensaries. All this to improve clinical quality, consumer and physician experiences and cost structures in a growing number of OptumCare regions, leading to growth and earnings performance."

UnitedHealthcare CEO David Wichmann also touched on the company's overall headwinds for next year, saying, "We're always deeply respectful of medical costs. Also, the sufficiency of government funding, particularly in the Medicaid population. In particular, as [Medicaid] continues to expand, it becomes event a larger line item on the budgets of individual states. And so, it's something that needs to be persistently managed and we need to make sure is adequately set."

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