Heres the latest news from the global pandemic.

Covid-19 hits doctors groups

Your doctors group may be up for sale because of Covid-19.

The pandemic stressed physician practices in 2020, halting in-person care in the spring as cases mounted. In a fee-for-service health-care market, where getting paid depends on seeing patients, that sent revenue off a cliff.

High costs for personal protective equipment needed by all health workers made budgets tighter. 

Even before Covid-19 came on the scene, the economics of running a medical practice were challenging. Independent groups with high administrative burdens and weak negotiating leverage were

increasingly joining with larger hospital systems to help gain cost efficiencies and pricing power.

In Massachusetts, the states largest doctor group found a different partner last week:

UnitedHealth Group, the health-care conglomerate that also owns the countrys biggest medical insurer.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. headquarters in Minnetonka, Minnesota.

UnitedHealth is a prolific, if discreet, acquirer of doctors. One executive called its M&A operation a well-oiled machine, geared to bringing on like-minded practices that fit its model. The company has 53,000 physicians already under its OptumHealth brand, a larger force than the nations biggest hospital chains.

Last weeks deal for Atrius Health, a Boston-based nonprofit group of 700 doctors serving 745,000 patients, is just one step in a broader expansion: UnitedHealth wants to add 10,000 more physicians in 2021. Atrius had booked a loss before the pandemic, and Covid accelerated financial stress.

Other doctors groups coming off a hard year

may decide its time to selland buyers are waiting.John Tozzi

Listen up

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Get the episode here.

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