Besides running urgent care clinics, Optum manages drug benefits and offers data analytics services to industry clients.
The payer believes that the merger of OptumCare and DaVita will create integrated ambulatory care delivery systems that improve costs and patient outcomes.
The announcement of the acquisition of a dialysis-center chain by a major insurer comes just days after drugstore chain CVS Health announced intentions to acquire a different major insurer, Aetna, for $69 billion plus assumption of debt.
The DaVita acquisition will add 2,200 physicians, nurse practitioners and physicians' assistants and 15,000 other affiliated providers who serve its patients to UnitedHealth's Optum unit, which has more than 30,000 physicians who work for or are affiliated with its practices.
The insurer will acquire almost 300 clinics that serve about 1.7 million patients, as well as 35 urgent-care centers and six surgery centers.
DaVita, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Denver, will give Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group more access to dialysis patients across the country and medical-group patients in six states.
The acquisition of DaVita would expand that reach considerably. The company already operates medical practices in Southern California and elsewhere, and it owns almost 250 MedExpress urgent-care clinics. ( DVA ), for about $4.9 billion in cash.
The possible threat of new competitors like Amazon entering the pharmacy business and technology companies delivering medical care through cellphones has led former adversaries to become partners, driving insurers to team up with hospitals and doctors' groups. Ken Thiry, CEO of DaVita Medical Group, said that the new funds will also go towards further improvement of their population health capabilities.