UnitedHealth Group

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UnitedHealth Group Incorporated is a large U.S. health insurance company with about 70 million customers. Brands include AmeriChoice (manages various Medicare and Medicaid options), Ovations (specializes in people aged 50+), UnitedHealth Group International (in Europe, Latin America, and Asia), and UnitedHealthcare (consumer-oriented health benefit plans). [1]

Top competitors are Aetna, Blue Cross, and WellPoint. In 2006, UnitedHealth had revenues of US$71.5 billion with profits of US$4.1 billion. [2]

Support for the American Legislative Exchange Council

UnitedHealth Group was a "Chairman" level sponsor of 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council Annual Conference, which in 2010, equated to $50,000. Also, its President of Community and State, Russell Petrella, spoke at a Workshop at the 2011 Annual Conference, titled "The Medicaid Crisis in the States: Private Sector Solutions You Can Use."[3]

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.

Efforts to oppose health care reform

Corporate mobilization of employees

In August, 2009, as the country was debating a Democratically proposed health reform bill, UnitedHealth Group sent out a letter to its employees urging them to call the company's "United for Health Reform Advocacy Hotline" to speak with an advocacy specialist about health care reform. According to the letter, the advocacy specialist would help UHG employees write "personalized messages" to elected officials, and arm them with talking points to use at local events to help them better oppose the public health insurance option. The letter also said the specialist would assist employees with finding and attending town hall meetings about health care reform. The letter directed employees to a Web site, www. unitedforhealthreform.com/events. [4]

Corporate mobilization of employees in a way that gives the appearance of a "grassroots uprising" against proposed legislation was a tactic used by Philip Morris in the 1990s to oppose U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulation of tobacco.

Ad boycott against Air America Radio

United Healthcare refused to advertise on the progressive Air America Radio. In October 2006, around 90 companies, including United Healthcare, told ABC Radio Networks that they did not want their ads to play on radio stations that carried Air America Radio. [5] [6] [7]

CEO William W. McGuire removed in stock scandal

In 2006, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, and prosecutors in the U.S. attorney's office in New York began investigating the conduct of UnitedHealth Group's leadership for backdating stock options. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of UnitedHealth Group was removed from office. The Washington Post said of McGuire, "his greed in amassing $1.1 billion in stock options plus a pension of $5.1 million a year is matched only by the revelation that the board member who chaired the compensation committee had conflicts of interest." [8] [9] [10]

Political contributions

UnitedHealth Group gave $336,000 to federal candidates in the 2006 election through its political action committee - 39% to Democrats and 60% to Republicans. [11]


The company spent $2,534,000 for lobbying in the first half of 2007. Some of the lobbying firms used were Barbour, Griffith and Rogers, Wexler and Walker Public Policy Associates, Dutko Worldwide, and Ogilvy Government Relations. [12]


Key people and 2006 pay: [13]

Selected members of the Board of Directors: [15]

Contact details

9900 Bren Road East
Minnetonka, MN 55343
Phone: 952-936-1300
Fax: 952-936-7430
Web: http://www.unitedhealthgroup.com


  1. About page, UnitedHealth Group, accessed November 2007.
  2. UnitedHealth Group Profile, Hoovers, accessed November 2007.
  3. [American Legislative Exchange Council, 2011 Workshops, conference brochure on file with CMD, August 11, 2011]
  4. United for Health Reform (UnitedHealth Group PAC) Take Action Today! Email. August 13, 2009
  5. Marc Fisher, "Air America, in the Throes of Victory?", The Washington Post, December 10, 2006.
  6. "Air America on Ad Blacklist?", FAIR, October 31, 2006.
  7. "Air America Blackout", FAIR.org/ABC memo, October 25, 2006.
  8. "A Board With Its Back To The Wall", BusinessWeek, July 10, 2006
  9. Joshua Freed, "Feds Seek to Speed UnitedHealth Probe", ABC News, April 30, 2007 .
  10. "The Options Blood Bath", Washington Post, November 14, 2006.
  11. 2006 PAC Summary Data, Open Secrets, accessed November 2007.
  12. UnitedHealth Group lobbying expenses, Open Secrets, accessed November 2007.
  13. UnitedHealth Group Key People, Hoovers, accessed November 2007.
  14. Stephen J Hemsley, Forbes, accessed November 2007.
  15. Board of Directors, UnitedHealth Group, accessed November 2007.