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UnitedHealth unit signs deal to take over most Quest billing

NEW YORK, Sept 13 UnitedHealth Group Inc. will fold most of Quest Diagnostics Inc's customer billing into its Optum unit, including taking on 2,400 of the lab company's employees, increasing Optum's business for such services by 20 percent.

Optum, which has similar deals with hospitals such as the Mayo Clinic and Dignity Health, said it was the first such agreement with a laboratory company. Optum's growth has outpaced other business lines at UnitedHealth, including the health insurance business for which it is known.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The 2,400 Quest revenue management employees will become Optum employees. Quest has about 44,000 total employees and expects to see cost savings from the 10-year deal.

Quest shares, which are up 15 percent this year, were off slightly at $82.01. UnitedHealth shares fell $1.63, or 1.2 percent, to $133.90. (Reporting by Caroline Humer)

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