UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (NYSE:UNH) was the second-largest healthcare company in the U.S. in 2016 by revenue, and that includes physician benefit management (PBMs) firms, drug stores, pharmaceutical firms and distributors.
And the impressive thing about its size is, UNH started diversifying from its insurance business long before it became trendy. Now it is the model for what all other healthcare companies aspire to be.
By integrating all aspects of the healthcare system within its operations, it has turned a complex system into a more streamlined one. Those efficiencies continue to reap huge benefits for UNH.
For example, by managing the medical facilities as well as the PBM and the insurance UNH keeps all those billings and costs in-house, so its one division of the company working with another. There are less compatibility issues, less process issues and less payment issues.
So, even without a significant shift in the demographics or economic issues, UNH continues to thrive. As a matter of fact, the long-term demographic trends are the most significant aspect of the long-term viability of quality healthcare companies.
The baby boomers will be retiring by the millions over the 20 years and as they age, it’s inevitable that they will be seeking out growing amounts of healthcare support for chronic and acute conditions that become more complex with age.
For more than a decade now, there has been a great deal of change in the healthcare space. First, the transition to electronic records from paper records brought in a significant change that made large and small health organizations figure out how best to navigate the new mandates.
Then, when the Affordable Care Act (aka, Obamacare) was enacted, that had another significant impact on how insurers as well as providers and everyone in between were going to stay in business.
Once the industry got its legs back under it, a new president and governing party set about dismantling everything that had been built around Obamacare.
So far, those ambitions have been muted. But that didn’t help these massive organizations set their course through the graying of America megatrend that continues to plod forward.
That’s precisely why UNH has managed to succeed where others have had less success. It began to build this diversified model and still continues to integrate new operations under its operational umbrella. For example, in 2017 UNH pulled off four major deals, including adding DaVita Inc (NYSE:DVA). DVA operates kidney dialysis services through a network of more than 2,500 outpatient dialysis centers around the country.
Also under its Optum division, UNH added MedExpress and its 200 clinics that are staffed by more the 30,000 healthcare professionals.
And just this week, CEO David Wichmann noted, “You can expect to still be very strong deployers of capital.” That was after he announced the company’s great Q1 earnings and upgraded guidance for the rest of 2018.
There was also good news this week that Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) has decided that it isn’t going to move into the healthcare sector just yet. That’s one less competitor and that much more opportunity for UNH.
Louis Navellier is a renowned growth investor. He is the editor of five investing newsletters: Blue Chip Growth, Emerging Growth, Ultimate Growth, Family Trust and Platinum Growth. His most popular service, Blue Chip Growth, has a track record of beating the market 3:1 over the last 14 years. He uses a combination of quantitative and fundamental analysis to identify market-beating stocks. Mr. Navellier has made his proven formula accessible to investors via his free, online stock rating tool, PortfolioGrader.com. Louis Navellier may hold some of the aforementioned securities in one or more of his newsletters.