2017 TOP STORIES: UnitedHealth buys American Health Network

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In the age of health care consolidation, it was one of the last holdouts: a large, independent group of doctors, operating dozens of practices across Indiana.

But in April, American Health Network, based in Carmel, agreed to be acquired by the nation’s largest health insurer for $184 million.

The sale of the 300-doctor practice to suburban Minneapolis-based UnitedHealth Group marked the end of a 19-year run as a proud, independent player.

AHN, with 1,800 employees, operates dozens of practices across the state, from Kokomo to New Albany, along with locations in central Ohio.

The firm was formed in 1994 by Indianapolis-based insurer Anthem Inc. as it was pushing to control health care costs by building its own network of providers. But the operation racked up millions of dollars in losses in the early years, and Anthem sold it in 1998 to the network’s doctors.

Then, earlier this year, in an ironic turn, the company Anthem created was acquired by its biggest competitor. American Health Network is now part of UnitedHealth’s fast-growing OptumCare division, which has 21,000 physicians in 28 markets and is on pace to expand by up to six new markets a year.

Dr. Ben Park, CEO of American Health Network, said his company’s board had been examining options for two years, after becoming convinced it could not develop new services and resources without a bigger partner.

Under the deal, AHN is keeping its Carmel office, which will become the Midwest operating center for Optum.•

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