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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
UnitedHealth Group shrugs off reports that Amazon may enter pharmacy business

UnitedHealth Group shrugs off reports that Amazon may enter pharmacy business

The nation's largest health insurer boosted full-year earnings guidance after topping analyst estimates.

Feds drop a whistleblower case against UnitedHealth Group

A judge had dismissed a suit alleging false filings; other litigation continues.
Dayton signs agreement for 'reinsurance' program

Dayton signs agreement for 'reinsurance' program

The program will lower individual market premiums for 2018.
Minn. joins suit against Trump's halt to health insurance subsidies

Minn. joins suit against Trump's halt to health insurance subsidies

The state health insurance program receives much of the "cost-sharing reduction" money marked for elimination by the Trump administration.
Consumers could see steady premiums as UnitedHealthcare enters Minnesota market

Consumers could see steady premiums as UnitedHealthcare enters Minnesota market

The Minnetonka health insurer is ramping up competition in Minnesota.
Judge tosses Medica lawsuit challenging DHS contract changes

Judge tosses Medica lawsuit challenging DHS contract changes

The HMO sued after dropping its public health contract, then losing business to insurers who stepped in.
Interim CEO Mark Traynor will stay in top post at UCare

Interim CEO Mark Traynor will stay in top post at UCare

UCare has named Mark Traynor as the Minneapolis-based health insurer's permanent chief executive, a job Traynor has held on an interim basis since April.
UnitedHealth goes for bigger slice of market in Minnesota

UnitedHealth goes for bigger slice of market in Minnesota

The nation's largest health insurer said it plans to start selling coverage next year to commercial groups in Minnesota.
Whistleblower lawsuit filed in California against UnitedHealth Group is dismissed

Whistleblower lawsuit filed in California against UnitedHealth Group is dismissed

Ruling in California whistleblower lawsuit doesn't halt parallel case in the Twin Cities.
As much of Minnesota sees premiums decline, Rochester's are on the rise

As much of Minnesota sees premiums decline, Rochester's are on the rise

Individual health insurance premiums are flat or going down across most of Minnesota next year, but that won't be true in the southeast corner of the state — a region that already has the highest rates in the market.
HealthPartners expanding in Dakotas in 2018

HealthPartners expanding in Dakotas in 2018

The health plan will sell Medicare coverage in conjunction with Sanford Health.

Small-business premiums on the rise in Minnesota

Roughly 263,000 Minnesotans could be affected by the hikes, expected to range from 8 to 14 percent.
Premiums declining, steady for plans via MNsure

Premiums declining, steady for plans via MNsure

After three years of big jumps, officials say 2018 will be more steady.

'Narrow networks' that limit health plan choice likely to endure

When regulators release 2018 health plan details Monday, buyers on the individual market are likely to see moderate increases and a steady lineup of insurers. But a wide range of insurer choices is unlikely to return.

Medica is lone insurer in Iowa, Nebraska individual markets

Premiums there will rise at least 30 percent.
Dayton, health plans clash on rate release timeline

Dayton, health plans clash on rate release timeline

Health plans say the state should first iron out the future of funding for the MinnesotaCare program.

Man fatally shot outside Roseville apartments

Police are looking for a car that sped from the scene.

Feds approve Minnesota program for lower premiums

The announcement left questions about the impact on federal funding for the state's MinnesotaCare program.

Costs picking up for large employer health plans

Increases are not as bad as some years, but rising medical costs and provider moves don't help.

Dayton cites e-mail from feds in reinsurance fight

Federal official referred to a "pass through" to compensate for any cuts.
Dayton: 'Nightmarish' fed insurance process could cost state millions

Dayton: 'Nightmarish' fed insurance process could cost state millions

The millions of dollars that Minnesota wants to spend to limit rate hikes in the individual health insurance market could cost the state millions more in federal funding for low-income health care.
Allina-Aetna targeting large employer market in Minnesota

Allina-Aetna targeting large employer market in Minnesota

The joint venture now has an insurance license and plans to start providing coverage in April.

Share of small companies offering health insurance continues to decline

A Kaiser survey found that despite relatively modest premium growth, smaller companies continue to find costs are too high.

Minnesota delegation pushes for 'reinsurance' approval

Lawmakers say speedy action is needed with premiums due to be released Oct. 2.
Mayo rolls out big health record project

Mayo rolls out big health record project

The clinic's $1.5 billion technology upgrade honors the physician who shaped the history of medical charts.
More Target Clinics opening in California

More Target Clinics opening in California

The deal extends a pilot program between Target, Kaiser Permanente and CVS Pharmacy.

Hutchinson Health to merge with HealthPartners

The merger continues the consolidation trend in Minnesota health care.
UnitedHealth Group nears deal with South American insurer

UnitedHealth Group nears deal with South American insurer

The Minnetonka-based health insurer's acquisition would increase its international services.
Co-working with a twist: Desks that make you move, plus free olive oil

Co-working with a twist: Desks that make you move, plus free olive oil

The former owner of a doggy day care brings a "sitting is the new smoking" vibe to a collaborative office space in St. Paul
Medica closing research institute, citing funding woes

Medica closing research institute, citing funding woes

Following financial losses last year, the health insurer said it needed to focus resources on its core business.
Commonly used specialty drug prices rise 9.6%, study shows

Commonly used specialty drug prices rise 9.6%, study shows

Pharmaceutical manufacturers dispute the report from AARP and a University of Minnesota researcher.

Access to care seen as issue as rural counties lose obstetric units

Minnesota hospitals part of national decline, although medical centers in the state are still more likely to offer the service.
In the U.S. workplace, a standing desk has become an important benefit

In the U.S. workplace, a standing desk has become an important benefit

Adjustable units that let workers stand are a must to recruit, retain millennials.

Optum paying $1.3 billion for research, consulting business

The health services division of UnitedHealth Group is acquiring the health care business of Advisory Board.
After years of turmoil, less drama so far for Minn. insurance market

After years of turmoil, less drama so far for Minn. insurance market

Smaller increases in premiums point to a more stable year for MNsure's volatile individual plans
Health plans report progress in limiting opioid use

Health plans report progress in limiting opioid use

Insurance companies want to manage use of painkillers amid growing concern about addiction and overdose.
Smart Choice MRI company growing in Twin Cities

Smart Choice MRI company growing in Twin Cities

The company says it expects to open next month in Eden Prairie, the company's third Twin Cities location.

Fairview adds executives following merger with HealthEast

The Minneapolis-based health system announced three new executives and eight new board members.

Medica buying Mayo Clinic division

Deal creates flexibility for both companies.
UnitedHealth names new CEO; Hemsley will become chairman

UnitedHealth names new CEO; Hemsley will become chairman

The nation's largest health insurer, based in Minnetonka, will get new leadership as Stephen Hemsley moves into the role of executive chairman and is replaced by Dave Wichmann.
Health insurers seek higher rates for Minnesota small businesses

Health insurers seek higher rates for Minnesota small businesses

Small business health plans in Minnesota could be facing double-digit premium increases next year, with some insurers saying that enrollees are consuming more care just as medical costs are rising. The number of those potentially affected by proposed increases is about 160,000.
Growth in Twin Cities health insurance premiums among slowest in U.S.

Growth in Twin Cities health insurance premiums among slowest in U.S.

People who buy individual health insurance policies could be facing some of the lowest premium increases in the country next year, a new study finds.

Owatonna-based Federated to exit health insurance business

The Owatonna-based insurer sells health coverage to employer groups in Minnesota and 22 other states.
MNsure sign-up period will stretch into January

MNsure sign-up period will stretch into January

Timeline is tighter than past enrollments, looser than HealthCare.gov.
Reinsurance may keep MNsure choices, but few will see premium drops

Reinsurance may keep MNsure choices, but few will see premium drops

MNsure customers would benefit from "reinsurance" just as rebates go away.
North Memorial expands primary care network

North Memorial expands primary care network

The Robbinsdale-based health system purchased this week a practice with three north metro locations.
Children's Minnesota CFO, vocal in Blue Cross dispute, steps down

Children's Minnesota CFO, vocal in Blue Cross dispute, steps down

The state's largest pediatric hospital did not say why Todd Ostendorf stepped down on July 28.
MNsure losing last option for small businesses

MNsure losing last option for small businesses

Blue Cross says it won't sell small business coverage in 2018 through the state's health insurance exchange, another blow to MNsure's small business program, which never really got off the ground.
Minn. individual health plans could see smaller 2018 hikes

Minn. individual health plans could see smaller 2018 hikes

Although some proposed health insurance hikes could exceed 30 percent, a state "reinsurance" program could significantly pare back those increases, and even lead to premium reductions next year.
Minnesota health insurance shoppers brace for new rates

Minnesota health insurance shoppers brace for new rates

The state is scheduled to release proposed premiums for 2018 on Monday.
MNsure preps for sign-ups, robocalls

MNsure preps for sign-ups, robocalls

The state's health insurance exchange is getting ready for open enrollment despite U.S. Senate debate on the federal Affordable Care Act.

States that expanded Medicaid saw drop in medical debt, U study finds

U report said that states using expanded Medicaid eligibility helped low-income Americans.
Political impasse over health care stokes uncertainty for insurers

Political impasse over health care stokes uncertainty for insurers

Minnesota health insurers are pushing forward with plans to sell coverage in the individual market next year despite the swirl of unanswered questions about the future of the federal health law.

UnitedHealth Group wants new venue in whistleblower case

The insurer says a dispute about Medicare payments should be heard in Washington D.C.
UnitedHealth Group second-quarter earnings surge 30 percent

UnitedHealth Group second-quarter earnings surge 30 percent

The nation's largest health insurer beat investors' expectations even as new signs emerged of Washington's inability to forge consensus on health care policy.

Medica seeks expansion in Wisconsin

The health plan wants to grow as other insurers withdraw from markets.
Obituary: Dr. Paul Gannon was a heart surgery pioneer

Obituary: Dr. Paul Gannon was a heart surgery pioneer

As she sat last week at her dining room table, Rozalija Gannon searched for a sympathy card that serves as a lasting testimonial to her…
UnitedHealth Group wants whistleblower lawsuit dismissed

UnitedHealth Group wants whistleblower lawsuit dismissed

The nation's largest health insurer challenges the government's theory of the case and says it fails to state a claim.

Medica invests $34 million in Massachusetts IT firm

More health plans choose to infuse private firms with cash in response to the ACA.
Bright Health is expanding into Medicare market

Bright Health is expanding into Medicare market

The start-up health insurer plans to sell coverage next year in Alabama, Arizona and Colorado.
Blue Cross and Children's Minnesota settle contract dispute

Blue Cross and Children's Minnesota settle contract dispute

Three-year deal restores in-network status for Children's Minnesota.
As Blue Cross-Children's talks fail, patients may pay heavy price

As Blue Cross-Children's talks fail, patients may pay heavy price

Blue Cross clients could face out-of-network care prices as Children's contract ends.
Still no deal in Blue Cross-Children's Minnesota dispute

Still no deal in Blue Cross-Children's Minnesota dispute

Patients' families worried as Blue Cross, Children's fail to reach settlement.

Standoffs like Blue Cross-Children's Minnesota may become healthcare trend

Analysts see the potential for more contract disputes like the lingering impasse between Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and Children's Minnesota.

Health insurance rebate money not going fast in Minnesota

Minnesota is on pace to have excess funds by the end of the year.

Competition heats up for patients in Grand Rapids

Essentia Health to expand one year after Fairview moves in.

Blue Cross extends contract with Gillette Children's

The deal comes as the contract dispute with Children's Minnesota continues.
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.
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