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

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.
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.
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