UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) continues to escalate its behavioral health business, tacking on tens of thousands of new behavioral clinicians in the last year.
UnitedHealth added a whopping 45,000 behavioral health professionals to its network last year as the company continues to push towards integrated care delivery, building off increasing behavioral health utilization, according to its 2023 investor conference.
Behavioral health integration is critical for providers seeking to maintain referrals and patients. UnitedHealth highlighted its efforts toward behavioral health integration during the conference.
“We have integrated homecare delivery with our behavioral health benefits business to improve timely access to behavioral care for our patients through our home care program,” Amar Desai, CEO of Optum Health, said.
The company previously committed to pursuing integrated care to extend its reach to customers without easy access to physical clinics.
“We’ve created the capacity to move beyond the walls of a traditional clinic to care for people virtually and now more than ever in the comfort of their own homes,” Brian Thompson, CEO of UnitedHealthcare, said at the investor conference.
Much of the conference was focused on boosting the company’s value-based care contracts. Payers and providers often see value-based care as a holy grail for behavioral health, but implementation has been challenging.
UnitedHealth plans to model its value-based care efforts on states that have successfully implemented value-based payment models.
“For example, within the West, California represents one of our larger fully accountable value-based patient populations, where we serve Medicare, Medicaid and commercial health plans, delivering connected and coordinated care,” Desai said. “Taking what we’ve learned in California, as well as other advanced value-based regions like Texas and Nevada, we’ll establish and grow value-based care delivery in more regions across the country.”
OptumHealth is UnitedHealth’s health services organization. The company estimates Optum Health’s revenues will grow by 16% in 2024 to nearly $110 billion.
Transitioning system-wide to a value-based care model represents $3 trillion in market spend, according to Margaret-Mary Wilson, executive vice president and chief medical officer of UnitedHealth Group.
“That’s why we’re investing today to create the capacity and capabilities the market needs to support a change of this magnitude,” Wilson said. “Today, we serve more than four million people this way. By this time next year, that number will be nearly five million, yet the opportunity to expand value-based care is nearly boundless.”
The company plans to achieve its goal of serving five million people through value-based care models by expanding to new geographies, deepening capabilities in its current markets and integrating care.