Private equity deals for physician practices soar

Hospitals are typically thought of as the most common medical group and ASC buyer. But that's not the case anymore. Hospitals aren't even among the top three buyers for the last four years, according to an American Hospital Association analysis of the Levin Associates 2023 report.

Private equity firms have been the top buyer of physician practices from 2019 to 2023, accounting for 65 percent of physician practice deals. Private equity firms are also purchasing the largest physician practices, with the highest average number of individual providers as part of the deal, according to the report.

Consolidation among medical groups comes in second with 14 percent of the physician practice deals, followed by health insurers with 11 percent.

UnitedHealth's subsidiary Optum is the largest employer of physicians nationwide with 70,000 employed or affiliated physicians. SCA Health, a surgery center chain with more than 320 facilities nationwide and 9,200 physicians, is part of the Optum network. CVS Health also spent nearly $20 billion in the last year to acquire Oak Street Health and Signify Health.

When health insurers acquired physician practices, there were 10 times more physicians on average than for any other buyer.

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