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UnitedHealth Group posts quarterly profits of $4.1 billion

The Minnetonka-based health insurance giant is Minnesota's biggest company.
UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group, Minnesota's biggest company by revenue, has posted third-quarter profits of $4.1 billion.

The Minnetonka-based health insurance giant reported its latest results Thursday, revealing that it increased its revenues to $72.3 billion in the three months to the end of September, an 11% rise compared to the same quarter in 2020.

Of that, its net earnings are listed at $4.086 billion. The company also bought back $1.1 billion worth of its own shares and returned $1.4 billion to shareholders via dividends in the quarter, a 16% increase in its dividend compared to a year earlier. 

The company and its subsidiary Optum between them employ 340,000 people, of which 18,000 are based in Minnesota. It has seen its business continue to boom despite the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year, UnitedHealth says its revenue grew by 6% to $257.1 billion, and it's well on its way to beating that this year, with its total revenue as of Sept. 30 standing at just under $214 billion.

To put this in perspective, Minnesota's second-largest company by revenue, Target, posted revenue of around $94 billion in 2020.

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While health insurers continue to post hefty profits, medical costs remain a leading cost pressure on American households.

A 2017 study by the Journal of General Internal Medicine estimated that 137 million adults were struggling to pay medical bills. It found that 17.4% of households with health insurance have medical debt, and 27.9% of households without insurance.

Those with health insurance have medical debt averaging almost $19,000, while it's almost $32,000 for the uninsured.

eHealth reports that in 2020, the average cost nationally for health insurance was around $5,500 annually for an individual, and just under $14,000 for a family.

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