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UHG's Optum and Red Ventures launch consumer health JV

Jul 11, 2022
Illustration of a first aid bag filled with cash.  

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

UnitedHealth Group has quietly combined certain Optum Health assets with Red Ventures' healthcare portfolio to create a new consumer health joint venture called RVO Health.

Details: The ownership structure of the joint venture is not clear, but, per Moody's: RV received cash proceeds in exchange for contributed assets, which were used to pay down a term loan.

  • According to its LinkedIn profile, RVO Health consists of a hodgepodge of assets: Healthline Media (Healthline, Medical News Today, Psych Central, Greatist and Bezzy), Healthgrades, FindCare and PlateJoy; Optum Perks, Optum Store and the virtual coaching platforms Real Appeal, Wellness Coaching and QuitForLife.
  • That gives it consumer health offerings ranging from Healthgrades, which offers doctor reviews, and Healthline, which provides medical information and guidance, to the prescription drug saving cards provided by Optum Perks and home delivery of health and wellness products via Optum Store.

What they're saying: "The JV will accelerate RV Health's access to new products, services and solutions, as well as provide access to a sizable first-party data audience, while UHG will enhance its digital transformation and momentum from Red Venture's technology platform and digital marketing expertise," a Moody's report says.

Context: UHG's Optum has long been known as an aggressive buyer of health care providers and health tech companies, and this year has been no exception.

  • All this as a merger trial regarding its $13 billion Change Healthcare deal approaches.

The intrigue: Optum has tended to go after cash-generating health care providers and tech companies with scale, but has been a less active acquirer of high-growth, cash-burning digital health startups.

  • How RVO's consumer-facing health care umbrella of offerings fit into the equation — and whether future dealmaking will be involved — is TBD.

Optum and RV Ventures did not return requests for comment.

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