Employment at Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group has hit the 300,000 mark with about 40,000 workers added to the payroll during 2018 alone.

The new employment figure comes from a regulatory filing this week and covers worldwide operations. The Minnesota workforce is a small fraction of the total at about 18,000 people.

Of the new hires in 2018, a UnitedHealth Group spokesman said Wednesday that about 23,000 came by way of the company's acquisition in early 2018 of Empresas Banmedica, which runs a health plan, hospitals and clinics in Chile, Colombia and Peru.

With the $2.8 billion deal, UnitedHealth Group across the three countries operates 13 private hospitals with more than 1,900 beds. UnitedHealth previously bought a large hospital operator and health insurer in Brazil.

Among Minnesota-based employers, UnitedHealth Group is getting closer in size to Minneapolis-based Target, which reported total employment of about 345,000 people as of February 2018.

UnitedHealth Group includes UnitedHealthcare, which is the nation's largest health insurer, and Optum, a fast-growing business that sells a variety of health care services.

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