DOJ Extends UnitedHealth’s Change Buy Antitrust Review

US antitrust regulators are closely examining the UnitedHealth Group proposal for US$8 billion to acquire data and healthcare company Change Healthcare, Bloomberg reported.

Department of Justice officials have asked officials from both companies for more information, and with the so-called second request, regulators will now have more time to review the proposed buyout, beyond the standard 30-day period.

The deal, if it goes through, would unite a major supplier of health-related information with one of the biggest US-based health services and insurance providers. The Biden administration has announced that it will be looking more closely at corporate mergers, including those in the healthcare industry.

Hospitals and other companies make use of Change Healthcare in order to submit claims and collect payment from insurers, and the company also offers ways for assessing if the appropriate healthcare was given to people.

UnitedHealth would fold Change Healthcare into its OptumInsight business, which boasts similar services. UnitedHealth also owns the country’s largest health insurer and has a burgeoning care-delivery arm encompassing over 50,000 physicians. The company reported revenues of US$257 billion in 2020, Bloomberg reports.

Critics of the proposed merger include the American Hospital Association, which said in a letter that the deal could reduce competition and end up resulting in patients having to pay more, along with lower quality clinical outcomes. The hospital group stated that the companies are the largest suppliers of some essential services like clearinghouses that rout claims to insurers for payment.