A partnership with a Dubai insurance company could simplify health coverage for workers at multinationals.
UnitedHealth Group Inc. continues to expand its international reach, announcing a partnership Wednesday that will enable it to offer insurance coverage to multinational companies with workers in the Middle East.
The Minnetonka-based company has signed a deal with Dubai-based Al Sagr National Insurance Co. to provide local health care coverage for workers in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Qatar, Oman, Lebanon, Bahrain and Kuwait.
UnitedHealthcare International already is doing business in China, India, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Scandinavia.
Simon Stevens, UnitedHealth Group's president of global health, said in a statement that the Middle East partnership with Al Sagr helps address "the challenges faced by our clients across the globe, by making seamless access to high quality health care easier."
UnitedHealth Group is the nation's largest health insurance company, with $101.9 billion in revenue last year. It is looking to expand globally in part to offset provisions in the 2010 health care reform law that limit profit margins on coverage in the United States.
Insurers have to spend at least 80 percent of the premiums they collect on medical care or activities that improve the quality of care. Starting this year, insurance companies are required to give consumers a rebate if they don't meet that threshold, potentially crimping profit margins significantly.
By aligning with Al Sagr, UnitedHealth can more easily navigate the complex regulatory hurdles that often vary country to country, said UnitedHealth Group spokesman Tyler Mason.
This "unique regional approach" allows employees in the Middle East to work with local account managers on benefits and customer service, he said.
Al Sagr describes itself as one of the leading insurance companies in the region with a "progressive approach to health insurance."
UnitedHealth Group's Optum division also has opened up operations in the Middle East. In November Optum announced a joint venture with Lifeline Hospital Group, a health system based in Abu Dhabi, to improve its billing and collections processes.
Jackie Crosby • 612-673-7335