UnitedHealth Group Tight-Lipped on Behavioral Health Plans After Expanding Segment

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is keeping details about its behavioral health strategy close to the chest.

The health care and insurance company highlighted that its behavioral health business was thriving just a few quarters ago in its Q2 2023 earnings call. Now, despite recently expanding its behavioral health segment, the company is highlighting other aspects of its business. 

Brian Thompson, CEO of UnitedHealthcare, briefly mentioned behavioral health in the company’s Q1 2024 earnings call.


“We certainly worked hard to create more access in the behavioral space,” Thompson said. “All of those elements [including behavioral health and speciality RX] are modestly up, but up as we had planned for.”

The company’s overall Q1 care patterns were on par with what it anticipated at the end of 2023, leadership said on the earnings call. First-quarter revenues amounted to $99.8 billion, representing a nearly $8 billion year-over-year increase.

Leadership also discussed the “unprecedented” Change Healthcare cyberattack, which disrupted clinicians’ abilities to file claims and get paid, saying that the UnitedHealth Group had already begun to drive recovery and mitigate the attack’s impact. 


“The core story at UnitedHealth Group remains our colleagues delivering improved experiences for the people we serve and driving balanced growth even while swiftly and effectively addressing the attack on Change Healthcare,” Andrew Witty, CEO of UnitedHealth Group, said in a statement

The cyberattack’s impact amounted to $0.74 per share in the first quarter. The company anticipates the impact for the full year 2024 to be between $1.15 and $1.35 per share.

UnitedHealthcare has previously committed to enhancing its integrated care model as part of its pathway to value-based and comprehensive care.

Optum, UnitedHealthcare’s health care services arm, continues to leverage its wraparound services, according to the company’s newly-minted CEO, Heather Cianfrocco.

The company stayed “incredibly consistent” in Q1, with first quarter revenues of $61 billion. Cianfrocco said that Optum was focused on behavioral health in 2023, but made no mention of Optum’s 2024 approach to behavioral health.

Cianfrocco noted that coming into 2024, the company made outpatient behavioral health a strategic priority and will continue its work in this area in keeping with the company’s larger direction.

Optum recently acquired outpatient mental health provider CARE Counseling. CARE is recognized as one of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S., regardless of industry. Optum told Behavioral Health Business it had “nothing to share” about the deal. 

While growing its behavioral health business, UnitedHealthcare has also been under fire for failing to reimburse behavioral health claims on par with physical health.

A federal appeals court revived a lawsuit alleging UnitedHealthcare frequently denied one patient’s behavioral health claims, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills. 

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected UnitedHealth Group’s challenge of another behavioral health claim denial case in February. 

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