Managed care company UnitedHealth Group Inc. slashed its third-quarter lobbying spending by 46 percent compared with the same quarter last year, when the health care reform overhaul debate heated up in Congress.

The Minnetonka, Minn., insurer spent $550,000 in the three months that ended Sept. 30, down from slightly more than $1 million last year. UnitedHealth also cut its spending compared with the second quarter, when it totaled $650,000.

In this year's third quarter, UnitedHealth lobbied on the overhaul, which has been unfolding since Congress passed it in March. The overhaul aims to provide health coverage for millions of uninsured people.

UnitedHealth also lobbied on the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act, the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2010 and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

UnitedHealth is the largest publicly traded health insurer based on revenue and second-largest based on enrollment, trailing only WellPoint Inc. It also operates segments that sell wellness programs and information services, aside from commercial and government-based coverage.

Besides Congress and the White House, UnitedHealth also lobbied the Office of Management & Budget.

Among those lobbying for the insurer were Joelle Thornhill, a former staff member of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee; Cory Alexander, a former special assistant to the White House North American Free Trade Agreement counselor and former employee of the office of the Democratic Whip and Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md.; Sohini Gupta Jindal, a former staffer for Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind.; and Robyn Lippert, a former employee of the office of Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and the Senate Judiciary Committee.