Staff Directory 277764631

Christopher Snowbeck

Reporter | Business
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

Christopher Snowbeck covers health insurers, including Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group, and the business of running hospitals and clinics. 

Since 1994, Snowbeck has covered health care stories at four newspapers including the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Daily Progress of Charlottesville, Va. He lives in St. Paul with his wife, two daughters and two cats. He graduated from Carleton College as a history major with a concentration in medieval studies. He serves on the board of directors for the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists. He's also a runner.
Recent content from Christopher Snowbeck
MNsure launched special enrollment so uninsured people could get covered with the public health crisis.

MNsure points 16,000 to coverage with COVID-19 crisis

Most of those seeking coverage seem to qualify for public health insurance programs.
Fairview Health Services said reduced hours will apply to about 15% of workers across the health system, which uses the brand M Health Fairview. Fairv

Fairview doctors face furloughs as deaths, hospital expenses rise

As the number of Minnesota deaths from COVID-19 grew by two to 24, the pandemic's financial shock became clearer.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz spoke Friday to the state about the new online dashboard and the info there.

Minnesota puts response info online in push to delay surge

See things ranging from ventilator tallies to total unemployment claims on a new online dashboard that state officials say will provide daily updates.
The trade group representing Minnesota’s nonprofit health insurers says 2019 results show financial stability with the likely onset of COVID-19 medi

Minnesota health plans tout financial stability to handle COVID-19 costs

Plans covering 2.4 million in state posted about $220 million in operating income last year.
Allina Health System has placed about 1,500 of its 29,000 employees on "low need" status, with pay, to compensate for declining business.

COVID-19 plans shrink health care work for Minn. clinics, hospitals

While preparing for a surge at hospitals, outpatient care centers go dark and workers are told to stay home.
Fairview Southdale hospital in Edina is part of the M Health Fairview system.

COVID-19 plans weaken Minnesota hospitals' revenue

The shutdown of elective procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic is cutting the volume of patients.
UnitedHealth Group Inc.'s campus in Minnetonka.

UnitedHealth Group pledges $50 million in COVID-19 support

UnitedHealth Group said it will provide $50 million to support groups most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.The Minnetonka-based health care company said it would work…
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed a bill Saturday morning allocating $330 million in COVID-19 aid passed by the state legislature on March 26. Governor W

Minnesota reports its 5th death from COVID-19; 43 more cases added

Newly declared patients included a 2-year-old as concern grows about the virus' spread in long-term care facilities.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz's stay-at-home order lasts for two weeks, with plans to follow that with three weeks of lesser restrictions.

Stay-at-home order now in effect; four Minnesotans dead from virus

Minnesota researchers offered a detailed look at the predictive modeling that influenced Gov. Tim Walz's use of the strategy, saying the move could reduce predicted deaths by up to a third.
Lab workers log in specimen samples at the Mayo Clinic Superior Drive facility in Rochester in early March.

Mayo Clinic researchers join quest in getting COVID-19 vaccine on fast track

"I don't think it's likely that one vaccine alone is going to meet all the different needs we have," says Mayo's Dr. Gregory Poland.
A new study found that tests using self-administered swabs accurately detected COVID-19 in more than 90% of positive patients.

UnitedHealth Group pushes self-collected COVID-19 test

A new COVID-19 test method would let patients swab their own noses for specimens at designated testing sites — an approach that could help with swab shortages and conserve dwindling supplies of protective gear for health care workers.
File photo.

MNsure routes 1,400 to coverage as COVID-19 spreads

The state insurance exchange and UnitedHealthcare have launched special enrollment periods.
A technician prepares COVID-19 coronavirus patient samples for testing at a laboratory in New York's Long Island.

Like patients, Minnesota doctors are frustrated by virus test, supply shortages

Physicians try coping with shortages in tests and supplies.
Vials of COVID-19 samples were tested on Tuesday, March 3, 2020.

First Minnesota COVID-19 death is confirmed

The Ramsey County resident who died March 19 was 80 to 89 years old with underlying health issues, according to officials. Nearly a third of the state's counties have been affected.
Individuals seeking coverage can visit starting March 23 to complete an application and enroll in coverage.

COVID-19 prompts special MNsure open enrollment

People lacking coverage can sign up beginning March 23.
A Mayo Clinic employee dressed in protective gear spoke to a person in a drive thru coronavirus testing site under a tent set up in the parking lot of

Minnesota hospitals, clinics limiting visitors to try to limit virus spread

Screening begins at the front door of medical centers.
UnitedHealth Group Inc.'s campus in Minnetonka.

Minnesota medical groups have fits and starts with working from home

The transition to working remotely sounds easy. In truth, the shift raises all sorts of tricky questions.
At a time when many companies are urging employees to work at home, UnitedHealth Group is taking a more complex approach.

UnitedHealth Group calling many to the workplace

In materials issued this past weekend, "employees are expected to come to their assigned work location" unless they have self-identified as being at higher risk for serious COVID-19 illness or are experiencing symptoms of respiratory infection.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and his administration are pushing insurers to cover more costs to treat COVID-19.

Minnesota pushes health plans on COVID coverage

State seeks waivers of cost-sharing when patients are treated for the disease.
The Seward Co-op on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis closed Sunday, March 15, after an employee tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The store is

State's first 'community spread' of virus is confirmed in Twin Cities

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota has jumped to 35. St. Paul declared a state of emergency, closing all libraries and Park and Rec facilities.
Mayo Clinic lab workers logged in specimen samples in Rochester.

Mayo finds no coronavirus in first 90 tests

As supply concerns persist, the clinic's lab is part of growing testing capabilities.
Lab technologists placed specimens onto the specimen distribution system at the Mayo Clinic's Superior Drive facility in Rochester.

Mayo Clinic fast-tracks new test for virus that causes COVID-19

It comes as concerns build over testing capacity that could thwart a robust response to the outbreak.
Dr. Dwayne Breining, executive director of the Northwell Health Laboratories, demonstrates a coronavirus test processing procedure in Lake Success, N.

More Minnesota insurers pledge to waive copays for coronavirus testing

Health plans offer more detailed guidance on benefits as coronavirus spreads.
HealthPartners headquarters in Bloomington. Dr. Mark Sannes, a senior medical director, said the nonprofit operator of hospitals and clinics is prepar

Questions abound about who pays what on COVID-19 coverage

Insurers try to reassure consumers, but the system is fragmented.
A rendering of a proposed utility plant for Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, one of the state’s largest medical centers.

Abbott Northwestern plans $199 million project

The project would add a central utilities plant and parking garage.
The Gonda Building, which is part of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Mayo's annual operating profit soars past $1B for first time

The earnings figure for 2019 was up 72% from the previous year as the Rochester-based health system saw more admissions and surgery patients.
Shares in Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group, the nation's largest health insurer, fell 7.8% on Monday, Feb. 24.

Nearly all Minnesota companies caught in stock market sell-off

Shares in nearly all of Minnesota’s publicly traded companies were swept up Monday in a broad sell-off that was shaped by intensifying fears about the…
Allina Health System operates dozens of clinics, 11 hospitals and a number of specialty care centers. Provided photo. ORG XMIT: MIN2001101230410051 OR

Facing operating loss for 2019, Allina made changes that turned things around

Process improvement program helped offset income drop from lower demand in first half.
UnitedHealth Group Inc. campus in Minnetonka.

Analysts see less political threat for health insurers in election

Deutsche Bank says the chance for "sweeping" change seems diminished.
Minneapolis police are investigating a death in the 900 block of SE. 15th Avenue.

Mpls. police: Man found amid chaotic scene at Como apartment dies at HCMC

A woman taken to detox from an apartment in the city's Como neighborhood has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Hazelden Betty Ford looks to expand in California

The addiction treatment provider is planning a $30 million construction project.
A new report finds that operating margins slipped a bit in 2018 for hospitals in Minnesota, a finding that a trade group says highlights financial cha

Minnesota hospitals under more financial pressure, report says

Gap between Minnesota's urban and rural hospitals narrowed in most recent period.
Allina Health System operates more than 90 clinics, 11 hospitals and a number of specialty care centers.

Clinic consolidation continues as Allina Health buys Apple Valley Medical Clinic

As costs rise, smaller practices find they need support of partnerships.

Twin Cities addiction counselor Takashi Yoshino dies at age 71

He led hundreds of clients toward recovery through decades of work at chemical dependency treatment centers in the Twin Cities.
HealthPartners headquarters in Bloomington. (Provided photo.)

Union workers at HealthPartners plan strike vote

About 1,800 unionized workers at HealthPartners are set to take a strike vote this week, union officials said Monday, after negotiations on a new contract…
Dr. Marty Makary said of the health care system, “People have a right to be angry. … We have a pricing crisis and we have clinical and administrat

One doctor's cure for the cost of U.S. health care

When regional health improvement groups met in Minneapolis for an October summit, Dr. Marty Makary presented a powerful set of slides explaining how 48% of…
Omar Ishrak, chairman and chief executive of Medtronic.

Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak named chairman of Intel's board

Omar Ishrak is scheduled to retire from the medical device manufacturer in April.
Mayo’s former CEO Dr. John Noseworthy received pay of $3.5 million in 2018. Mayo paid excise tax on his and four others’ pay.

Health care groups pay tax on CEO pay

Three large Minnesota nonprofits collectively paid more than $1.6 million.
UnitedHealth Group reported a profit gain of 16% for the last three months of 2019.

UnitedHealth shares rise after Q4 profit beats expectations

UnitedHealth Group's data division and growth in its insurance business for Medicare beneficiaries drove a better-than-expected jump in fourth-quarter profit at Minnesota's largest company.The company's…
Minnesota nonprofit hospitals in tug-of-war with insurers over efforts to rein in costs

Minnesota nonprofit hospitals in tug-of-war with insurers over efforts to rein in costs

Hospitals, insurer clash on "site of service" rules.
Allina Health will built two free-standing surgery centers in a partnership with Optum.

Allina partners with Optum on surgery centers

The lower-cost alternatives to hospitals will be part of a partnership with Optum.
Mike Mikan is president and vice chairman of Bright Health.

Bright Health buying health plan in California

The transaction spotlights the company's push for more Medicare business.
The MNsure call center in St. Paul is shown in this file photo.

MNsure says health insurance plan signups decline by 5%

Nationwide, fewer turn to public health insurance exchanges in briefer open enrollment.
The main entrance of Renville County Hospital and Clinics in Olivia. ] LEILA NAVIDI • BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Renville

Renville County Hospital plans to merge with HealthPartners

Renville County Hospital & Clinics in west-central Minnesota is to become part of the Bloomington-based nonprofit in 2020.
Bright Health raises additional $635 million for expansion

Bright Health raises additional $635 million for expansion

Total equity financing for the Minneapolis-based startup health insurer now exceeds $1 billion.
HealthPartners headquarters in Bloomington.

HealthPartners closing home care unit, cutting 70 jobs

About 70 jobs will be cut in HealthPartners' third set of layoffs in six weeks.
UnitedHealth Group's Optum unit acquired Diplomat Pharmacy, a Michigan-based specialty pharmacy business, for about $300 million plus the assumption o

UnitedHealth's Optum pays $300 million for infusion-specialist firm

Deal is the latest in series to expand services offered by OptumRx.
Dr. John Halamka has been named president of Mayo Clinic Platform. He will join Mayo Clinic Jan. 1, 2020.

Mayo Clinic calls up physician from the farm for 'platform' project

Dr. John Halamka and his wife, Kathy, currently run Unity Farm, an animal sanctuary in suburban Boston that includes 30 acres of agricultural production plus a cidery and winery.
Mayo Clinic Health System is closing its hospital in Springfield, Minn.

Mayo Clinic closing hospital, clinics in southwest Minnesota

Clinic cites difficulties with attracting patients and doctors to Springfield's medical center.
UnitedHealth Group is projecting revenue growth to pick up a bit next year paced by its Optum division for health care services.

UnitedHealth Group touts Optum effect on its corporate growth

Growth comes as health care giant diversifies beyond its core health insurance business.
Sanford Health headquarters in Sioux Falls.

Sanford Health merger to create six-state network falls apart

Deal with Iowa provider would have created a six-state network.
St. Francis Medical Center in Shakopee is spending about $44 million to build a surgery center while expanding its emergency room and cancer center.

Shakopee hospital spends $44 million to expand ER, build surgery center

St. Francis Regional Medical Center cites patient demand and changing payments from health insurers.
UnitedHealth Group headquarters sin Minnetonka.

UnitedHealthcare opening centers in Walgreens stores

A dozen Walgreens stores to offer UnitedHealthcare options, wellness visits.
Since open enrollment begin in October, counselors say they have seen a number of errors regarding price.

Minnesota groups report errors in Medicare website

Planning-tool glitches, pricing mistakes found.
Dr. Kurt Amplatz, pioneer and revolutionary inventor in interventional radiology and cardiology, has died at age 95.

Dr. Kurt Amplatz, pioneering Minnesota inventor of treatment tools, dies at 95

Doctors say the "occlusion" devices exemplify the pioneering role Amplatz played in developing a new approach to treating heart ailments.
HealthPartners headquarters in Bloomington. Provided photo.

HealthPartners cutting 75 jobs on diminished Medicare revenue

A federal mandate eliminating Medicare Cost plans has hurt revenue.
Andrew Witty was named president of UnitedHealth Group.

UnitedHealth Group names Optum CEO as president

Former Glaxo­SmithKline exec Andrew Witty will have both jobs as he ascends closer to top.
Filled prescriptions zipped down an automated conveyor belt at the Health Partners prescription-filling facility in Eden Prairie.

HealthPartners closing pharmacies and cutting 300 jobs

HealthPartners says it's due to economic pressures that give an advantage to larger operators in the industry.
UnitedHealthcare, the nation's largest health insurere, is paying a penalty over allegations it violated state and federal laws when paying medical cl

UnitedHealthcare assessed $1 million penalty for claims payment violations

Pennsylvania regulators say insurer violated state, federal laws on medical claims.
Doctor giving a prescription to his patient in medical office. istock photo

Minnesota trade groups offering new health plans

Despite rules suspension, associations venturing in.
New York regulators said the research showed an Optum data analytics program "significantly underestimates health needs for black patients."

Regulators probe racial bias with UnitedHealth algorithm

Regulators says racial bias in algorithm leads to poorer care for black patients; UnitedHealth defends product.
Minnesota employers see 4% health cost increases

Minnesota employers see 4% health cost increases

A survey puts the average at $12,850 per worker in 2019, with 4.4% higher costs expected in 2020.

Minn. study: Truckers saw offsetting savings with sleep apnea treatment

University of Minnesota Morris researchers documented savings that helped offset costs of a sleep apnea treatment program
The Official U.S. Medicare Handbook, Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Fall enrollment for Meidcare is now open.(Dreamstime/TNS) ORG XMIT: MIN1910041437424240

Medicare health plans adding more counties in Minnesota, U.S.

Insurers that sell Medicare Advantage health plans are pushing to extend the coverage into hundreds of new counties across the country next year, a competitive…
A portion of the UnitedHealth Group Inc.'s campus in Minnetonka

UnitedHealthcare plan faces Medicare sanction

Minnetonka-based insurer says one of its health plans fell out of compliance with Medicare.
A portion of the UnitedHealth Group Inc.'s campus in Minnetonka

UnitedHealth Group shares jump 8% on strong earnings, guidance

The company saw its quarterly earnings grow by 11% to $3.5 billion.
Mayo Clinic is opening a facility in London.

Mayo expands global reach by opening clinic in London

The facility is part of a new partnership with Oxford University Clinic.
Shown is the MNsure call center in St. Paul.

MNsure rates holding steady for 2020, a sign of stability for the market

Regulators approved 2020 average premiums that are flat or down slightly.
“Where physicians are acquired by large health care systems or private equity or maybe by insurers, what happens is the physicians lose that autonom

Clinic partnership hopes to invoke a bit of Marcus Welby, M.D.

Infinite Health Collaborative is trying to preserve older ideals of medicine where physicians and patients are independent of larger groups when making decisions, one of its owners says.
Family health plan costs provided by employers will rise another 5% on average next year, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study.

Average cost of family health plans pushes above $20,000 for first time

The cost of insurance offered through employers keeps rising faster than wages and inflation.

Minnesota Medicare choices expanding for 2020

Premiums will mostly hold steady for Medicare Advantage plans.
Deb Krause, vice president of the Minnesota Health Action Group.

$200K award will help Minn. employers expand mental health programs

The Minnesota Health Action Group will use the award to identify ways to bridge gaps in treatment.
UnitedHealth Group acquired a "payment integrity" firm, reportedly for $3.2 billion.

UnitedHealth Group acquires 'payment integrity' firm

The Minnetonka-based company reportedly paid $3.2 billion for Equian.
Mayo Clinic and Google have formed an IT partnership.

Mayo Clinic picks Google for data storage as firms announce broader partnership

The digital giant will open an office in Rochester for research with Mayo on solving complex health care problems..
Bill Killian, a World War II veteran who developed a popular state park in western Wisconsin, died last month at age 100.

Bill Killian, who led efforts to create Willow River State Park, dies at 100

Wearing his life jacket and a steel helmet, Bill Killian stood on the deck of the USS Roper and watched as a suicide Japanese aircraft…