UnitedHealth Group made $287B last year — and is aiming even higher in 2022

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Shaymus McLaughlin

UnitedHealth Group announced 2021 revenue of $287.6 billion Wednesday — while promising an even even larger windfall in 2022.

The Minnetonka-based health care giant said that figure was 11.8% higher than in 2020, when revenue hit $257.1 billion. The corporation's Optum business – a pharmacy benefits management company – represented a significant chunk of that total, with revenues of $155.6 billion last year.

Overall, UnitedHealth Group reported operating earnings of $24 billion.

The company, already the largest health insurance provider in the U.S., has its sights set even higher for 2022, reiterating it expects to have revenues of $317 billion to $320 billion in the year to come.

“Our strong 2021 performance and confident growth outlook for 2022 and beyond reflect the accelerating innovation and expanding capabilities across Optum and UnitedHealthcare,” said Andrew Witty, CEO of UnitedHealth Group, in a statement.

Criticism nipped at UnitedHealth Group's heels throughout 2021 however, when the second year of the pandemic plunged many households into a financial hole and inflation ate into whatever salary gains workers did see.

In July, the president of the American Hospital Association wrote a scathing blog post, saying UnitedHealth Group was able to post quarterly earnings of $6 billion because it was "not paying for health care services."

"Throughout the course of the pandemic, United pursued a number of changes to its policies to further restrict patients’ coverage. United didn’t just profit from avoided care, it actively sought to scale back what care it would pay for at the same time," Rick Pollack wrote.

In the spring, an anesthesiologists group sued UnitedHealthcare, alleging the business used “unlawful tactics and pressure campaigns" to push potential patients away from the non-United health group. (UnitedHealthcare, in a statement to the New York Times, said the suit was retribution for a rate dispute between the two parties.)

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