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

UnitedHealthcare partners with lab companies

The companies are pushing "value-based programs" that promises better outcomes and lower costs.
An illustration shows the new St. Mary's Medical Center and a nearby clinic that Essentia Health plans to build in downtown Duluth.

Duluth's Essentia Health announces state's biggest medical construction project

Essentia's record expansion will include a massive new medical center.
Lawmakers approved the expansion plan that Regions Hospital in St. Paul reached after negotiations with other hospital owners in the region.

Lawmakers approve expansion compromise at Regions Hospital

Legislators approved the expansion compromise after talks among three major health systems.

More found health coverage via small groups in Minnesota last year

Tighter labor market has more firms using benefit to recruit.
Regions Hospital in downtown St. Paul.

Smaller expansion at Regions Hospital moves forward

The St. Paul hospital wants lawmakers to approve the plan by Sunday.

Future looks bright for startup insurer Bright Health

The startup insurer saw its enrollment double.

Medica sees enrollment jump in ACA markets

The Minnetonka insurer is the only option for Iowa and Nebraska residents.

Feds paying $17.2 million in MinnesotaCare lawsuit

Minnesota and New York sued over federal funding for state insurance plans.
Fairview owns and operates University of Minnesota Medical Center.

Fairview plans $111 million renovation at U hospital

The plan calls for new and renovated space for emergency and surgery patients.
FILE - This Oct. 16, 2012, file photo, shows a portion of the UnitedHealth Group Inc.'s campus in Minnetonka, Minn.

UnitedHealthcare expands program for hip, knee and spine procedures

More employers are flocking to the plan, which aims to cut costs while improving care.

Former Medicare chief and UnitedHealth executive Andy Slavitt launches health-focused venture-capital firm

Former UnitedHealth Group executive putting focus on improving care in Medicare, Medicaid.

Employer health costs rising faster in Minnesota than nationwide

Most employers outside of the state are seeing increases at a lesser rate.

Health plans in Minnesota lost less on Medicaid in 2017

Blue Cross, HealthPartners, Medica and UCare saw improved financial results on PMAP, MinnesotaCare.
Lloyd Fanum

Lloyd Fanum, veteran and Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteer, dies at 91

When the Red River slipped its banks and caused historic flooding in April 1997, Humboldt, Minn., was largely underwater — and became a destination for…
Regions Hospital in downtown St. Paul.

Amid regulator concern, smaller Regions Hospital plan suggested

A plan to expand the bed count by 20 percent likely overstates the future demand for hospital care in the east metro, according to state regulators.

Allina Health reports higher income on labor savings

Hiring more RNs in 2017 led to lower spending on temporary workers.
Fairview Health Services saw a 25 percent decline in operating income.

HealthEast merger weighs on Fairview financial results

Fairview expects performance will improve as back-office efficiencies and other merger advantages kick in.
Jim Schowalter, president and CEO of Minnesota Council of Health Plans.

Health plan enrollment decline eases in Minnesota

A year ago, the trade group for Minnesota's nonprofit health insurers sounded the alarm over a 30 percent decline in the number of people buying…
Regions Hospital in St. Paul.

Regions Hospital pushes for exception to state law to add more beds

Growth in specialty care drawing patients from outside Regions' base in Ramsey County is just one of many factors that officials said are pushing the hospital up against its current limit on beds.

HealthPartners reports sharply higher income for 2017

Improvement in the state's troubled market where individuals buy health insurance boosted financial results last year at HealthPartners as the Bloomington-based health system continued to…
The UnitedHealth Group Inc.'s campus in Minnetonka, Minn.

UnitedHealth Group hikes outlook after quarterly profit easily beats estimates

Strong first quarter, new growth opportunity have the health insurer hiking its yearly outlook.

Mayo seeks smaller transcription workforce

With transcriptionists' use declining, company offers "voluntary separation" deal.
UnitedHealth Group in Minnetonka.

UnitedHealth pushes back in whistleblower case

Counterclaim alleges a breach in Medicare contract terms.

Minnesota health-plan shoppers used $137 million in state rebates

That's less than half the sum set aside by legislators, according to final figures for the state's one-time premium rebate program.
Regions Hospital, St. Paul, Minn.

Rivals raise concerns about Regions Hospital expansion plan

HealthPartners hospital in St. Paul seeks legislative approval to add 100 beds.
Positive Blue Cross results trigger rebates to consumers

Positive Blue Cross results trigger rebates to consumers

It is legally required to return about $30 million of its 2017 profit to subscribers.
In this Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014 photo, the headquarters of Ucare is pictured in Minneapolis.

Health insurers return to profitability in Minnesota

Seven nonprofit health plans reported $307.9 million in net income in 2017.
UnitedHealth Group is working with rival Humana to see if blockchain technology can be used to improve management of health data.

UnitedHealth Group dabbling with blockchain

Minnetonka-based insurer teams with rival Humana and Quest Diagnostics on technology pilot project.
The MNsure call center in St. Paul.

Smaller MNsure premiums buck national trend

It's due in large part to a Minnesota state government program, a new report finds.
Tom Lindquist, CEO, Allina Health and Aetna Insurance Company, a joint venture of Allina Health System and Connecticut-based Aetna

Allina-Aetna joint venture names CEO

New firm to sell insurance to employer groups.
Nancy Williams texted her Lyft driver for a ride after a doctor’s appointment at Whittier Clinic in Minneapolis.

Hitch Health joins ride-sharing startups trying to get patients to the doctor

Clinics say they're optimistic about the program, which is aiming to cut no-shows.
Sisters with the religious order that founded Minnesota’s first hospital are speaking out against a plan that would add 100 beds to Regions Hospital

Sisters of St. Joseph oppose Regions' downtown St. Paul expansion

A religious order is raising questions about the proposal's impact on other hospitals in St. Paul.
The MNsure call center in St. Paul.

MNsure tightens rule on 'special' enrollments

The change by MNsure follows concerns from insurers about potential "gaming" in the individual market.
MNsure CEO Allison O'Toole

MNsure CEO Allison O'Toole departing for new job

Allison O'Toole, who took the role in 2015, will be replaced by the exchange's COO, Nate Clark.
Andrew Witty, new CEO of Optum, shown in a 2015 file photo.

Optum names Andrew Witty, former Glaxo chief, as its new CEO

Larry Renfro, who has led the firm since 2011, will become managing partner of venture fund as Witty steps in.
Michael Guyette is the former chief executive of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

Departing Blue Cross CEO didn't disclose outside consulting payments

Departing Blue Cross leader did not disclose consulting fees to board.
Cigna has offered to buy Express Scripts in a $52 billion deal that promises $600 million in administrative efficiencies.

Bloomington jobs impact unclear from Cigna deal

Express Scripts employs about 1,000 employees and contractors here.
Prescription drugs at Express Scripts, one of the biggest pharmacy benefit managers in the drug world, in St. Louis, Mo., Sept. 7, 2016.

$52B deal for drug benefits giant would make Cigna more like UnitedHealth

The Connecticut-based insurer currently hires UnitedHealth Group for pharmacy benefit management services.

UnitedHealthcare to pass drug rebates to consumers

The insurer says 7 million people in its fully insured plans to qualify for the break.
The federal government imposed a $61,500 penalty against UCare after an audit showed it did not comply with Medicare rules in handling coverage determ

UCare among 18 insurers facing Medicare penalty

HMO says issue regarding prescription drug coverage has been corrected.
Jim Schowalter, state Council of Health Plans chief, cited health plan switches.

Health insurers in Minnesota spend more on overhead

State report tracks 10-year high in administrative spending by health plans in Minnesota during 2016.
Drug spending trends moderated again in 2017, according to a new report.

Prescription drug spending declined slightly in 2017

Prime Thera­peutics report is used to track the trend.
Mayo Clinic earnings jumped by nearly 50 percent last year as the Rochester-based health care system lost less money on Medicaid patients.

Mayo Clinic sees big jump in 2017 earnings

Clinic cites drop in Medicaid losses, gains in philanthropy, investments and efficiency.
Mayo Clinic CEO John Noseworthy

Mayo Clinic's CEO to retire at year's end

Dr. John Noseworthy served nine years as president and chief executive at the Rochester-based health system.
Medtronic's sales grew 7 percent and profits met expectations in the latest quarter.

Strong sales at Medtronic, but profit margins decline

Following a quarter of strong sales, but diminished profit margins, Medtronic officials on Tuesday suggested one key to future growth is contracts that link payments for medical devices to good patient outcomes.
In this March 8, 2010, file photo, an employee passes an order to a customer at a Panera Bread store in Brookline, Mass.

Abbott Northwestern health kick includes Panera Bread in former McDonald's spot

McDonald's operated in the Minneapolis hospital until May 2016.

Abbott Northwestern building $29.2 million neuroscience unit

Abbott Northwestern sees a growing need for neuroscience options as the population ages.

DaVita cuts 38 jobs in Minneapolis

The Denver-based health care company is trimming its research operations.
Michael Guyette, chief executive at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, is leaving.

Blue Cross CEO Michael Guyette leaving for new job

Michael Guyette, who led the Eagan-based health insurer since 2013, is leaving for California.
Judge allows UnitedHealth Medicare fraud case to proceed

Judge allows UnitedHealth Medicare fraud case to proceed

Federal judge allows portions of whistleblower case, dismisses others.
Warren Buffett's tapeworm metaphor works insofar as health care spending consumes a large and growing share of the nation’s gross domestic product.

Will the health care worm turn?

Big-name CEOs ratchet up the rhetoric in launching bid to repair the system.
More health plans are dabbling with programs that provide discounts at the grocery store for healthier foods.

Insurance plans push healthier choices at grocery store

Medica, UnitedHealthcare offer discounts to motivate shoppers.

Mayo Clinic proposes medical facility in Hudson

The plan is called a "direct challenge" to HealthPartners in region.
State-led exchanges like Minnesota's Mnsure outperformed the federal exchange in the most recent signup of individual health policies.

MNsure, other state exchanges top feds on enrollment

Minn.-based health insurance exchange reached a record-high number of sign-ups.
Andy Slavitt's new nonprofit is called the United States of Care. It won’t do any lobbying, Slavitt said, but will focus on policy and grass-roots w

Andy Slavitt launches push for affordable health care

New nonprofit seeks bipartisan solutions from Minneapolis and D.C.
This combination of photos from left shows Warren Buffett on Sept. 19, 2017, in New York, Jeff Bezos, CEO of, on Sept. 24, 2013, in Seattle

Like Amazon, big companies in Minn. tried to upend health care, but the effort fell apart

Twin Cities effort from the 1990s has some lessons for innovating CEOs.
This combination of photos from left shows Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway, Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase. The companie

Amazon, Buffett, JPMorgan tackle U.S. health care 'tapeworm'

Investors are chewing over the vague announcement but it answers speculation about Amazon's interest in health.

Health system mergers in the U.S. at record high

There were 115 deals made, report says, and 11 involved sellers with net revenue of at least $1B.
Dr. Dan Blue, executive vice president, Sanford World Clinic
The South Dakota-based health care provider has been putting financial and operational mu

Sanford Health's Dr. Dan Blue discusses the provider's global vision

Sanford Health announced last week new clinic and research ventures in Costa Rica, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and Vietnam as the South Dakota-based health…
St. Cloud Hospital.

St. Cloud's CentraCare Health is buying more clinics

The St. Cloud-based health system says the moves ensure that doctors and services remain in Central Minnesota.
Todd Hofheins, CFO, HealthPartners

HealthPartners names new chief financial officer

Changes continue at the top of HealthPartners, with the health system and insurance company this week announcing the hiring of a new chief financial officer.Todd…
Sanford Health is making an international push.

South Dakota's Sanford Health expands into five more countries

The South Dakota-based health system's new clinics mean it will have 30-plus locations in nine countries.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is shifting back-office work for its management of state public health insurance programs to a unit of Anthem.

Blue Cross shifting work to Anthem

The Eagan-based insurer is hiring a subsidiary of Indiana-based Anthem.
FILE - This Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, file photo, shows a portion of the UnitedHealth Group Inc.'s campus in Minnetonka, Minn.

UnitedHealth and Walgreens are mixing urgent care with pharmacy

The tiny suburb of Hilltop, located just north of Minneapolis, is hosting an experimental mash-up of health care services that's helping to generate buzz on Wall Street.

UnitedHealth Group and Walgreens expand collaboration to Las Vegas

UnitedHealth Group's growing network of urgent care clinics is opening four locations in Las Vegas as part of an emerging collaboration with pharmacy giant Walgreens.The…
In this Oct. 26, 2017, photo, a woman walks past the Briva Health enrollment office for MNsure, Minnesota's insurance marketplace, in Minneapolis.

MNsure's health plan enrollment tops last year's total

Slight improvement comes as exchange enrollment in other states has slipped.
FILE - This Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, file photo, shows a portion of the UnitedHealth Group Inc.'s campus in Minnetonka, Minn.

UnitedHealth Group doubles its profit, surpasses $200B in revenue

The insurer surpassed $200B in revenue in 2017, and forecasts more earnings and investment.

Hopeful signs for Minnesota health insurers

Premium hikes helped cover claims, but the future remains uncertain.
A new study by the state health department finds signs that the individual insurance market has begun to stabilize several years after the launch of t

Minnesota finds 'cause for optimism' in individual health insurance market

A new report suggests stability despite continued enrollment declines.
Don Moe, 75, died at home in St. Paul on Dec. 30, following an eight-year struggle with multiple myeloma.

Don Moe, legislator with passion for reform, dies at 75

He also brought into politics his younger brother Roger, the long-serving Senate majority leader who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2002.
The MNsure call center in St. Paul.

Health plan shoppers now in buying mode as MNsure closes in on deadline

The health exchange is extending hours during the final four days of open enrollment.

Farmer health plans draw 1,700 in Minnesota

They offer alternative to state's individual market.
Too similar? The logo designs used by HealthPartners, at left, and Sam’s Club sparked litigation over brand confusion, but the outcome of the settle

Logo dispute between HealthPartners and Sam's Club is quietly settled

And the winner is … unclear.
The Minnesota State Capitol. Roughly $100 million set aside to help cushion individual market consumers against spiking health insurance premiums is h

About $100 million in unused health premium rebates headed back to state

About 100,000 people received relief, but lack of demand for individual health insurance policies left portion of aid untapped.
Regions Hospital in St. Paul is planning to build a new birth center.

Regions Hospital planning new birth center

Officials say construction of a new center would be separate from its push to expand licensed beds.
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