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UnitedHealth makes a move into big-money surgical centers

UnitedHealth Group announced this morning that its Optum unit is buying Surgical Care Affiliates for $2.3 billion. Forbes reports that Surgical Care, based in Illinois, has ambulatory surgical centers and surgical hospitals in more than 30 states.

Why it matters: Our Bob Herman says it's a big move that probably will make UnitedHealth a lot of money — because ambulatory surgery centers, which focus on outpatient procedures like elbow surgeries, are immensely profitable. It's also a sign that insurance companies no longer can, or want to, rely on their legacy business of handling only medical claims.