The Wall Street Journal reported today that United Health Group as agreed to acquire a Monarch Healthcare, an Irvine California physician group including approximately 2300 physicians in a range of specialties. The acquisition is by United’s subsidiary Optum Health. The fluidity and uncertainties of health care financing and strategy has led to a number of interesting events with the merger of providers with the insurance function in different and yet reminiscent echoes of managed care arrangements of the past. The Monarch deal in California in somewhat encumbered by the arcane corporate practice of medicine restrictions. The situation here would likely involve the purchase of some hard assets and a long term contractual relationship with an independent practice association.
Optum has been aggressive in purchasing physician practice groups in Nevada and obtaining some stakes in other practices in the country. Plan to see much more of this kind of activity as medical management wings of health insurance companies extend their reach into provider structuring and ownership. It beginning to look more and more like Kaiser.