Besides running urgent care clinics, Optum manages drug benefits and offers data analytics services to industry clients.
"Combining DaVita Medical Group and Optum advances our shared goal of supporting physicians in delivering exceptional patient care in innovative and efficient ways while working with more than 300 health care payers across Optum in ways that better meet the needs of their members", Optum CEO Larry C. Renfro said in a statement.
The announcement of the acquisition of a dialysis-center chain by a major insurer comes just days after drugstore chain CVS Health announced intentions to acquire a different major insurer, Aetna, for $69 billion plus assumption of debt.
It serves ~1.7M patients per year through ~300 primary care and specialty care clinics, 35 urgent care centers and six outpatient surgery centers. DaVita operates almost 300 clinics across a half-dozen states, including California and Florida, including eight in Manatee County and one in Lakewood Ranch just south of University Parkway. UnitedHealth bought Surgical Care Affiliates for about $2.3 billion in March is notable.
Reuters reported last month that DaVita was exploring a sale of its medical unit.
The acquisition of DaVita would expand that reach considerably.
Shares in DaVita rose 9 percent, a $193 million gain for billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who owns a 20 percent stake in the dialysis and medical group company.
But the company has struggled with the physician operation. At the same time, DaVita has been under pressure in its main business because of scrutiny on the relationship of it and other kidney-care providers to a charity, American Kidney Fund, that has helped patients pay for health coverage. The companies said the deal was expected to close in 2018.