Staff Directory 277764631

Christopher Snowbeck

Reporter | Business
Chris has covered health care stories at four different daily newspapers since 1994. His work at the Star Tribune focuses on health insurers, hospitals and the state's MNsure health insurance exchange. Previously, he worked at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Daily Progress of Charlottesville, Va., and the Indianapolis News.
Recent content from Christopher Snowbeck
Mayo shifting hospital services from Albert Lea

Mayo shifting hospital services from Albert Lea

In a growing trend, the health system cited better efficiency for the move.
Iowa seeking help from Feds for insurance market

Iowa seeking help from Feds for insurance market

Two leading carriers have announced plans to exit Iowa's individual market for 2018, which means Minnetonka-based Medica could be the only insurer offering coverage to individuals statewide next year.

UnitedHealthcare might stay on exchanges in Nevada, New York

Nation's largest health insurer filed paperwork to stay in New York, Nevada.

Operating losses swamp investment gains at health plans in Minnesota

Red ink ruled for health plans despite investment income of $149 million.
Losses narrow for Minn. health plans, but customers head for exits

Losses narrow for Minn. health plans, but customers head for exits

Health plans saw less red ink in 2016, but enrollment declines likely means healthy subscribers are dropping coverage.

Report puts bull's-eye on 'low-value' health care

Study says millions spent on services, exams that provide little or no benefit.
As health insurers drop out, Medica gains unwanted monopolies

As health insurers drop out, Medica gains unwanted monopolies

The Minnetonka-based insurer is the only one now selling statewide coverage to individuals in Iowa and Nebraska that might possibly return in 2018 to government-run exchanges.

Bright Health raises $160 million for for expanding health plans

The Minneapolis-based start-up insurer is selling coverage in Colorado.
Law blocks HMO sales to for-profits in Minnesota

Law blocks HMO sales to for-profits in Minnesota

The two-year moratorium comes after Republicans and DFLers couldn't agree on rules for any transactions.

Blue Cross outlook turns negative on loss, IT costs

A rating agency revised the health insurer's outlook while affirming its financial strength.

Willmar hospital, doctors to link with CentraCare

Short of a merger, the deal continues trend of greater Minnesota hospitals partnering with regional medical centers.

GOP seeks delay on ACA subsidy ruling

Federal money considered important in supporting MinnesotaCare program.
Fairview-HealthEast deal continues trend of health systems bulking up

Fairview-HealthEast deal continues trend of health systems bulking up

Hospitals argue that mergers help control costs. Consolidation critics counter that bulked-up hospital systems have power to demand high prices. The debate unfolds further in this deal.
State says $100 million in MinnesotaCare funding is at risk

State says $100 million in MinnesotaCare funding is at risk

Attorney General Lori Swanson wants to intervene in a federal lawsuit that could block certain subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.
Feds sue UnitedHealth alleging at least $1 billion in false claims

Feds sue UnitedHealth alleging at least $1 billion in false claims

The government's complaint comes in a whistleblower case brought by a former employee in Minnesota.

UnitedHealth shutting down Harken Health

The innovative subsidiary lost money in the market selling coverage to individuals.

Boards approve Fairview-HealthEast hospital merger

The boards of directors at the Fairview and HealthEast hospital systems have approved a merger effective June 1 to create one of the state's largest health systems.
Contract dispute between Blue Cross, Children's hospital persists

Contract dispute between Blue Cross, Children's hospital persists

The continuing standoff between the two medical giants threatens to block an estimated 70,000 patients from visiting Children's at in-network rates starting July 5.
U wants more money from Fairview

U wants more money from Fairview

A Board of Regents vote means the two sides can talk through September.
Consumer protections 'gutted' in HMO bill, critics say

Consumer protections 'gutted' in HMO bill, critics say

The change, in a large spending bill for health and human services before the Legislature, addresses how nonprofit HMOs can become for-profit insurers.
Fairview says merger with HealthEast moving forward

Fairview says merger with HealthEast moving forward

The deal will add three hospitals and 14 clinics to a network that is one of the state's largest.
Health plans pitch 'e-visits' to seniors

Health plans pitch 'e-visits' to seniors

Insurance companies get on board to cover online health care for Medicare patients.

UCare opposes Medica lawsuit in public health insurance programs

The HMO says Medica got much bigger in the programs through an "economically imprudent bid."
Medica might bail on Iowa's individual market

Medica might bail on Iowa's individual market

The insurer wants the government to stabilize the individual market, or state could lose its last provider.
Feds sue UnitedHealth over Medicare payments

Feds sue UnitedHealth over Medicare payments

Agency says insurer inflated Medicare payments through "one-sided" chart reviews.

Report finds increased insurance coverage in rural Minnesota

The new report cites the federal health care law for the increase in the use of public insurance.

Minnesota health plans saw 11 percent rise in overhead

The cost of running health plans in Minnesota increased at a faster pace during 2015, raising questions about whether the state is on the cusp of an expensive new trend.

Minnesota seeking federal funds for its reinsurance program

The Commerce Department estimates a new state program will save the federal government up to $167 million next year.
Medica cutting 250 more jobs as it exits major state contract

Medica cutting 250 more jobs as it exits major state contract

Minnetonka-based Medica is eliminating 250 more jobs following its decision last year to drop a major state contract in public health insurance programs.
Boston Scientific sales leap 10 percent, but profit misses expectations

Boston Scientific sales leap 10 percent, but profit misses expectations

The medical device maker saw first-quarter revenue growth of 10 percent.

Blue Cross pays $45K penalty on network issue

Commerce alleged the health insurer's system did not update properly.
MNsure weighs tighter sign-up rules

MNsure weighs tighter sign-up rules

The exchange can follow the feds' lead or side with consumer advocates.
Abbott holds steady on release date for new ICD

Abbott holds steady on release date for new ICD

Company expects clearance for a new defibrillator later this year despite FDA warning letter.
Medtronic selling medical products business in $6.1B deal

Medtronic selling medical products business in $6.1B deal

Ohio-based Cardinal Health picks up a variety of patient monitoring and recovery products, plus 17 manufacturing facilities
No health coverage? ACA endures and so does tax penalty

No health coverage? ACA endures and so does tax penalty

Since Republicans have not repealed and replaced the ACA, the mandate remains in place.
Despite 2016 losses, Blue Cross CEO 'cautiously optimistic' about individual market

Despite 2016 losses, Blue Cross CEO 'cautiously optimistic' about individual market

Too soon to say whether premiums are covering individual plan claims.
Outgoing HealthPartners CEO says divisiveness is hampering progress

Outgoing HealthPartners CEO says divisiveness is hampering progress

Retiring HealthPartners CEO Mary Brainerd said industry is in an unusually anxious period.
Study: Big hospitals outside Twin Cities grow profits

Study: Big hospitals outside Twin Cities grow profits

Analysis of 2015 data adds a wrinkle to findings from a hospital trade group.
Trump to nominate U economist for key job at HHS

Trump to nominate U economist for key job at HHS

U health care economist would serve as an assistant secretary.

Health plans in Minnesota saw their worst year in a decade

State insurers' $687 M in red ink fits national pattern, analysts say.

Minnesota health insurers sue for 'risk corridor' funds

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Medica and Sanford Health are among insurers suing over the lack of payouts in safety net program.
State says Medica is trying to manipulate contracts with lawsuit

State says Medica is trying to manipulate contracts with lawsuit

Agency says Minnetonka HMO ditched contract, now wants to return.
Feds join second whistleblower case against UnitedHealth

Feds join second whistleblower case against UnitedHealth

The Minnetonka-based insurance company is accused of making false claims regarding Medicare patients that resulted in overpayment of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Getting a faster go-ahead on medications

Getting a faster go-ahead on medications

Fairview Health Services has shortened the time patients must wait to receive approval for drugs subject to 'prior authorization' requirements from health insurers

Industry study finds income lags for Minnesota's rural hospitals

Hospital trade group says rural medical centers struggle due to low payment rates from government insurance programs.
Study finds GOP health bill shifts costs to older, poorer buyers

Study finds GOP health bill shifts costs to older, poorer buyers

The Kaiser study projects significant increases for older people in rural Minnesota and modest savings for some younger people.
TV ads bumped up ACA signups, U study finds

TV ads bumped up ACA signups, U study finds

U researchers declined to cite cause-and-effect, but said TV campaign, enrollments overlapped.

Feds investigate insurers' Medicare billing for possible fraud

The disclosure came in a whistleblower case against Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group.
Minn. hospitals don't back GOP health care replacement bill

Minn. hospitals don't back GOP health care replacement bill

The trade groups for hospitals, doctors and insurers are concerned by the potential loss of health insurance coverage.
Medica sues Minnesota DHS over public insurance contract

Medica sues Minnesota DHS over public insurance contract

The HMO said it was offered a worse deal than other providers.
New Medica chief charts course in rough waters

New Medica chief charts course in rough waters

Telling Medica's story in the individual market is just one of the challenges facing John Naylor, the new chief executive.
Fairview and UCare won't merge after all

Fairview and UCare won't merge after all

Deal endured delays since the agreement in April.
Mayo spending $217 million on construction in Rochester

Mayo spending $217 million on construction in Rochester

The clinic plans to expand and renovate spaces at its St. Marys campus about 1 mile west of Mayo's main site in downtown Rochester.
Children's cancels Blue Cross contract, affecting 70,000

Children's cancels Blue Cross contract, affecting 70,000

Children's Minnesota ends Blue Cross contract in a move that could affect 70K patients.

MNsure role might shrink with ACA repeal

The GOP proposal calls for making tax credits available to consumers outside the exchange.
Minnesotans who study health care repeal plans see huge changes

Minnesotans who study health care repeal plans see huge changes

Republican-led bill would cause wrenching cutbacks but could enhance market forces.

Minnesota hospitals report increased community benefit spending

A new report on 2015 expenses found significant growth in hospital costs for treating Medicaid patients.
HealthPartners CEO Mary Brainerd to retire after 15 years at the helm

HealthPartners CEO Mary Brainerd to retire after 15 years at the helm

Health care nonprofit says that longtime executive Mary Brainerd will be succeeded by Andrea Walsh.

Feds issue $2.5 million fine against UnitedHealthcare

Federal audit indicates prescription plans did not align with Medicare rules, boosting out-of-pocket costs.
UCare hiring for a comeback

UCare hiring for a comeback

Back big in the market, insurer expects to receive 150,000 new subscribers with Medicaid, MinnesotaCare coverage.

Mayo earnings hit by Medicaid, labor costs

Despite headwinds, the workforce still managed to grow by 5 percent.
They're allowed in Minn. again, but for-profit HMOs face uphill climb

They're allowed in Minn. again, but for-profit HMOs face uphill climb

The Legislature reversed a statute from the 1970s to try to boost competition.

Mayo Clinic investing $70 million in Mankato hospital

Construction is expected to begin later this year on expansion of the hospital's surgical suite.

MNsure courts last-minute health plan shoppers

Some in individual market can still enroll by March 1.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota cutting 50 jobs

About half the layoffs stem from outsourcing behavioral health services.
Whistleblower suit alleges UnitedHealth defrauded Medicare

Whistleblower suit alleges UnitedHealth defrauded Medicare

A whistleblower lawsuit alleges that UnitedHealth Group's data analytics division helped the Minnetonka-based insurer and other health plans defraud the federal Medicare program by "upcoding" risk adjustment scores to boost payment rates.
UCare making big comeback in public health insurance programs

UCare making big comeback in public health insurance programs

The HMO will pick up most of the counties that Minnetonka-based Medica will vacate this spring.
Growth in cost of medicine moderated in 2016, study finds

Growth in cost of medicine moderated in 2016, study finds

The annual rate of overall increase slowed even as lawmakers railed against price hikes on EpiPens.
Proposed sign-up limits for health insurance worry MNsure board

Proposed sign-up limits for health insurance worry MNsure board

The Trump administration says the change could stabilize the insurance market, but two MNsure board members voiced concerns.
That's a wrap: New gowns make their way into local hospitals

That's a wrap: New gowns make their way into local hospitals

Methodist Hospital joins medical centers launching improved attire for patients.
The future after Obamacare? Look to Minnesota's past

The future after Obamacare? Look to Minnesota's past

The state's experience with high-risk pools shows that you can cover thousands of people who are denied coverage by private insurers — but that it isn't cheap for the public or the patients.

Health insurers say they need insurance protection from big claims

A tiny fraction of patients in the individual market rack up 40% of all medical bills.

Despite uptick at MNsure, Minnesota's individual market declines 30 percent

Insurers called the decline alarming and warned that it could force further premium increases.

Audit finds errors remain in Minnesota's public insurance programs

Audit finds eligibility problems in system result in a continued high rate of overpayments.

Hospitals balk at tight networks in rural parts of Minnesota

Some medical centers cry foul about loss of local patients to distant options.
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