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S&P affirms UnitedHealth Group ratings

S&P Global Ratings affirmed its A+ counterparty credit rating on UnitedHealth Group Inc.

The agency also affirmed its counterparty credit ratings and financial strength ratings on the company's core operating subsidiaries at AA. The subsidiaries are Golden Rule Insurance Co., UnitedHealthcare of Wisconsin Inc., UnitedHealthcare of New York Inc., UnitedHealthcare of Arizona Inc., UnitedHealthcare of Alabama Inc., UnitedHealthcare of the Midwest Inc., UnitedHealthcare of Texas Inc., UnitedHealthcare of Ohio Inc., UnitedHealthcare of North Carolina Inc., UnitedHealthcare of New England Inc., UnitedHealthcare of Kentucky Ltd., UnitedHealthcare of Illinois Inc., UnitedHealthcare of Georgia Inc., UnitedHealthcare of Florida Inc., UnitedHealthcare Insurance Co. of New York, UnitedHealthcare Insurance Co. of Illinois, United HealthCare Insurance Co. and Oxford Health Plans (NY) Inc.

The outlook remains negative.

S&P said the rating affirmation is based on the strength of UnitedHealth Group's operating results in 2016 in line with the agency's expectations. It also reflects the agency's view that the company's revenue and earnings growth momentum will continue in 2017-2018.

The rating affirmation is also based on S&P's expectation that UnitedHealth Group will continue to reduce leverage. But, in maintaining a negative outlook, S&P said the pace of the company's deleveraging has been more gradual than it initially expected.

S&P's negative outlook reflects the fact that the agency could lower its ratings on UnitedHealth Group if the company's financial leverage remains meaningfully above the agency's 40% target or consolidated risk-based capital does not improve toward the upper end of a range of 225% to 250%.

S&P Global Ratings and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by S&P Global Inc.