Officials with the UnitedHealth Group on Tuesday announced they would bring 500 jobs to Kansas.
Around 150 of the positions will be at OptumRx's Overland Park facility at 6860 West 115th Street, where renovations have opened up a floor full of cubicles waiting to be filled.
"We're very, very deeply committed to Kansas," said John Mahrt, OptumRx's chief operating officer. "Kansas is a fantastic place for our people to live and work."
Company officials said they plan to hire 47 nurses and 96 customer-services representatives. They also said there are openings for pharmacy technicians as well as IT support, marketing and procurement personnel.
The new hires will add to the several thousand people already employed in Kansas by UnitedHealth Group's two giant subsidiaries: UnitedHealthcare, the nation's biggest private health insurer, and OptumRx, which provides pharmacy benefit management services to health insurers, patients and employers, and operates a mail-order pharmacy.
"We have to keep up with growth in our business," said Shawn Hoy, director of national patient care for BriovaRx, a specialty pharmacy unit of OptumRx. "We operate nationally, so our commitment to Kansas is a big one. I'm responsible for four locations, and this is where we're seeing most of our growth."
Hoy said the company was also adding jobs in preparation for "peak season" in the health insurance industry.
"Most people switch insurance at the end of the year, so there is a surge as we get into December and January to ready the new people who are coming on board and manage through that change," Hoy said.
Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer stopped by the news conference to congratulate OptumRx.
"What’s important about this is the types of jobs you’re helping us with," Colyer said. "Those jobs are high in technology, they are high people skills, and they're high output. They get real results for people."
Company officials said they hoped to begin filling the positions immediately, starting with a job fair from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, October 18, at OptumRx.
C.J. Janovy is an arts reporter for KCUR 89.3. You can find her on Twitter, @cjjanovy.