Staff Directory 6370570

Christopher Snowbeck

Reporter | Business

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
Bloomington-based HealthPartners operates Hutchinson Health Hospital, which treats patients in west-central Minnesota.

Minnesota settlement on medical debt saves Hutchinson Health patients $184,000

Attorney General Keith Ellison alleged the hospital wrongly switched patients with medical debt into a new plan, resulting in ballooning payments and defaults.
Vaccination coverage exceeded 10% among pregnant women age 25 to 49, compared with just 3.1% in pregnant women age 18 to 24.

CDC study finds fewer pregnant women receiving COVID vaccine

Health officials say women could be more receptive to immunization with better outreach.
UnitedHealthcare is putting on hold a policy that would have stopped payments for non-emergency care in ERs beginning next month.

UnitedHealthcare delays policy to stop paying for some ER care

Leading physician and hospital groups spoke out in opposition to the plan to end payments for non-emergency care, which the health insurer said would save money while steering patients to the right site for care.
UnitedHealthcare, headquartered in Minnetonka, is the nation’s largest health insurer. The company says it is working to encourage patients to use u

UnitedHealthcare to stop paying for 'non-emergency' care in ERs

Doctors and hospitals oppose the policy, saying it could harm patients by delaying needed care.
Joy Fitzgerald has joined UnitedHealth Group to help lead its diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. She previously worked as the chief diversity an

UnitedHealth taps Eli Lilly exec for its diversity, equity and inclusion efforts

During Joy Fitzgerald's Eli Lilly tenure, the company earned national recognition for its diversity and inclusion efforts.
Whitney Parker waved to a friend in her support group from her home in Maple Grove. One year after her husband’s death from COVID-19, she’s still

After COVID losses, widowed young Minnesotans find 'forever friends' online

With the help of an online support group, young widows and widowers are finding ways to forge a sense of community.
Maddox Nichols, 13, of Minneapolis, got his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from nurse Erin Oleson last month at Children’s Minnesota. ] A

Minnesota COVID-19 numbers headed in 'right direction'

Record low "positivity rate" one of many signs of improved pandemic outlook.
Chloe Archer, a junior studying psychology, got the COVID-19 vaccine from pharmacist Karla Marz during a free vaccination event last month at Hamline

Minnesota reports 302 new COVID-19 cases, 16 more deaths

The number of people with at least one vaccine dose nears 3 million.
“I do believe, in the United States at least, the potential for a very dramatic national surge is off the table because of the vaccination levels,�

Vaccine has virus on the run in Minnesota

Amid optimism and relief, officials concerned about unvaccinated populations.
Savior Allen-Knight, a recent Hamline University graduate, got the COVID-19 vaccine from pharmacist Karla Marz at a free vaccination event May 20 at H

Minnesota reports 343 new COVID-19 cases, 10 more deaths

The number of people with at least one vaccine dose exceeds 2.9 million.
Amanda Jackson talked with nurse Cindy Yang during a doctor’s appointment last week.  Her husband, Darryl, accompanied her. Their fourth child is du

'A walking miracle': Pregnant woman's brush with death from COVID-19

Amanda Jackson's doctors say her story shows that they're still learning how best to treat COVID-19 patients.
Registered nurse Jenipher Onsarigo administered the Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 vaccination to women at the vaccination site at the Masjid Al Tawba M

Minnesota reports 599 new COVID-19 cases, 9 more deaths

The number of people with at least one vaccine dose exceeds 2.83 million.
Allina Health System operates dozens of clinics, 11 hospitals and a number of specialty care centers.

Allina Health sees income grow with expense control

Minneapolis-based health system has yet to see a return to prepandemic demand for health care
Kuabcag Yang, 13, of Brooklyn Park, got his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from nurse Jenn Doble on Thursday at Children’s Minnesota.

Younger teens start receiving virus vaccine in Minnesota

Expansion of immunization drive comes as the state reports 1,011 new cases and 19 virus deaths.
Christian Guallpa, a dish washer at Broders’ Pasta Bar in Minneapolis, got a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine from Dr. Abby Houts at a clinic set up

Minnesota companies weigh vaccine mandates for workers

Mandates are too sensitive for governments, but businesses have latitude to impose them.
Mayo Clinic physicians Dr. Michael Maniaci, and Dr. Margaret Paulson, the physician leads for Mayo’s Advanced Care at Home, at the Command Center in

Mayo Clinic investment backs in-home technology for hospital-level care

The Rochester-based clinic and a large health care group in California will jointly invest $100 million in Boston-based company.
Christine Runyon administered the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Jamie Larson last month at United Labor Center in Minneapolis. ] LEILA NAVIDI • leila.

Minnesota gets creative in COVID-19 vaccine outreach

Dwindling demand forces new approaches to boost immunization numbers.
Michael Elder of St. Paul got a COVID-19 vaccine shot last month from Lydia Payne, a senior airman in the Air Force, at the Minnesota State Fairground

Minnesota reports 1,321 new COVID-19 cases, 8 more deaths

The number of people with at least one vaccine dose exceeds 2.64 million.
HealthPartners headquarters in Bloomington. (Provided photo.) ORG XMIT: MIN1911141712152765

HealthPartners saw income grow amid COVID-19 in 2020

The pandemic trimmed clinic revenue, but boosted health insurance earnings.
Registered Nurse Sherry Donnahoo filled syringes with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine used at the vaccination site at the Masjid Al-Tawba Mosqu

Minnesota reports 1,661 new COVID-19 cases, 13 more deaths

The number of people with at least one vaccine dose exceeds 2.6 million.
Empty vials that contained a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Doctors brace for questions with return of J&J vaccine

Health care providers across Minnesota are anticipating a flood of questions from patients about COVID-19 immunizations in coming days.
Hennepin Healthcare nurse Christine Runyon talked to Michael Christy after giving him the COVID-19 vaccine at United Labor Center in Minneapolis this

Minnesota reports 1,723 new COVID-19 cases, 10 more deaths

The number of people with at least one vaccine dose exceeds 2.5 million.
Nurse Winnie Nyabuto vaccinated a patient with COVID-19 vaccine at North Memorial Health’s Minnetonka clinic in February.

Minnesota reports 2,104 new COVID-19 cases, 8 more deaths

The new cases came on a volume of 44,564 tests, putting the positivity rate just below the state's "caution" level of 5%. The number of people with at least one vaccine dose exceeds 2.4 million.
New data presented Friday reinforced initial concerns that the risk with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine seems to be greatest among women under

Minnesota expects Johnson & Johnson shots to resume soon

Federal health agencies lifted the pause on using the vaccine. Data suggests risk of rare health risk is concentrated among women under age 50.
As Minnesotans delayed elective procedures and some other medical care in 2020 because of the pandemic, the state’s non-profit health insurers proce

Results soar at Minnesota's 7 big health insurers as claims fall

Legal settlements and delayed care amid the pandemic drove a surge in operating income last year for Minnesota's nonprofit health insurers.
A nurse works in the cardiac ICU at Fairview's St. John's Hospital in Maplewood in 2020. (Staff photo: DAVID JOLES / david.joles@startribune.c

Fairview Health Services sees losses grow with COVID-19

The pandemic cut hospital and clinic volumes at the Minneapolis-based health care system.
A COVID-19 Community Mobile Vaccination Bus visited Hallie Q. Brown Community Center in St. Paul on Tuesday.   ] CHRISTOPHER SNOWBECK • Chris.Snowbe

Minnesota launches mobile vaccine clinics by bus

Outreach focused on groups hit hard by COVID-19 including communities of color.
Use of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is paused.

Minnesota doctors hope for quick return of J&J vaccine

Single-dose product is key for reaching some groups, health officials say, but they fear a stigma might linger.
Nurse Sherry Donnahoo filled needles to be used at the COVID-19 vaccination site at the Masjid Al-Tawba mosque this month in Eden Prairie.

Minnesota COVID-19 deaths top 7,000 as cases, vaccinations rise

Minnesota reported 2,429 new coronavirus cases and 10 more deaths linked to COVID-19. The seven-day average for net new cases declined for a second straight day.
UnitedHealth Group solidly beat expectations for first quarter earnings as the nation’s largest health insurer added more than 1 million subscribers

UnitedHealth Group boosts outlook on profit jump

First quarter earnings beat expectations as insurance subscribers grew by 1 million people.
Registered nurse Jenipher Onsarigo administered the Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 vaccination to women at the vaccination site at the Masjid Al Tawba M

Vaccine 'passports' stir debate in Minnesota

Idea adopted elsewhere raises personal freedom and equity questions.
Registered nurse Sherry Donnahoo prepared COVID-19 shots at a vaccination site at the Masjid Al Tawba mosque on Thursday in Eden Prairie.

Minnesota COVID-19 case count tops 2,000 for 4th straight day

Minnesota is reporting 2,454 new coronavirus cases and 12 more deaths as the count for people with at least one vaccine dose approaches 2 million.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota in Eagan. (Star Tribune file photo)

Blue Cross of Minnesota affiliate sold for $500 million

Eagan-based Further administers health savings accounts paired with high-deductible health plans.
Brian Thompson is now chief executive at UnitedHealthcare. For several years, he ran the Medicare business for the division.

UnitedHealth CEO makes first changes to leadership team

Brian Thompson was named chief executive of the UnitedHealth Group subsidiary.
Minnesota researchers unexpectedly discovered the nation’s first case of the Brazilian variant called P.1.

How Minnesota confirmed the nation's first Brazilian COVID-19 variant case

Minnesota researchers' surprise discovery highlights importance of whole genome sequencing.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota nurse Debra Kloyda administered a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to an elderly woman at North Memorial H

Concerns grow over COVID-19 variants, case growth in Minnesota as spring break nears

Spread of more infectious forms of virus complicate plans for schools, holidays.
Bill Layer, 71, of Blaine, received a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday at North Memorial Health Hospital’s vaccination clinic in Brookly

Cases trend upward, as Minnesota reports 1,449 new COVID cases, 9 more deaths

The count for people with at least one vaccine dose is approaching 1,138,000.
Dan Culhane

Dan Culhane, Twin Cities radio veteran and onetime co-host of morning show on KQRS, dies at 62

You might not have met Dan Culhane, but there's a good chance you've heard his voice.At radio stations across the Twin Cities, Culhane voiced commercials…
North Memorial nurse Maureen Kurgat vaccinated Catherine Rivard, 68, against COVID-19 in the lobby of her Minneapolis apartment building on Wednesday.

Minnesota virus cases creep up as vaccinations hit 1.2 million

Mixed indicators leave state health officials with an "in-between" sense for where the state stands.
The MNsure call center in St. Paul is shown in an Oct. 28, 2016 file photo. (Photo by Glen Stubbe *  ORG XMIT: MIN20111013385

MNsure shoppers will see extra $70 million in tax credits

The savings projection for existing customers doesn't include those who might newly tap health exchange subsidies.
Andrew Wiitty, UnitedHealth Group chief executive. (Photo by Richard Fleischman/UnitedHealth Group) ORG XMIT: MIN2102091351000127

UnitedHealth Group CEO 'more optimistic' on pandemic

Speaking at an investors conference, Andrew Witty made his first public comments as the company's chief executive.
A woman waited to be vaccinated Friday at the Vikings Training Center in Eagan, which has been converted into a site administering the newly available

State health officials stress travel risks as variants spread

Health officials say the spread of a more contagious version first found in the United Kingdom underscores the importance of people avoiding spring break travel.
A man was vaccinated at the Vikings Training Center in Eagan on Friday.

1M Minnesotans have received COVID-19 shots

The state reported 975 new cases and 12 more deaths linked to COVID-19. The test "positivity rate" was again lower than the state's "caution" level of 5%.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield.

Minn. health officials report COVID-19 variant clusters in Carver Co., call for youth sports pause

More than five dozen cases have been linked to participants in school, club sports.
In this Aug. 3, 2017, file photo, Martin Shkreli arrives at federal court in New York.

Blue Cross of Minnesota lawsuit takes aim at 'Pharma Bro'

Lawsuit alleges monopoly scheme by drug company once headed by now imprisoned Martin Shkreli.
Entrance to the campus of the University of Minnesota.

U to expand study of whether common diabetes drug could treat COVID

Early research suggests metformin, an inexpensive drug used for diabetes and weight loss, can help women infected with the virus avoid serious illness.
Lab workers log in specimen samples at the Mayo Clinic Superior Drive facility in March 2020 in Rochester.  (Staff photo by David Joles/david.joles@st

Mayo Clinic posts $728 million in income despite pandemic

After an initial hit, demand for COVID test helps to drive strong results.
OptumLabs nurse Kristeen Shursen prepared to administer an infusion of antibodies at the site in Minnetonka.

UnitedHealth Group opens 'pop-up' infusion center for COVID-19 patients

"Monoclonal antibodies" given in Minnetonka to help avoid hospitalization.
ELIZABETH FLORES • Hennepin Healthcare nurse Alison Grover administered the COVID-19 vaccine to Phillip Larkins at Fellow

Minnesota's COVID cases are down, but for how long?

Despite the decline, there's considerable uncertainty about whether it can be sustained, particularly as more contagious versions spread.
A joint venture between Allina Health System and Optum, a division of Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group, plans to build a surgery center in Brooklyn

Allina, Optum plan to build surgery center in Brooklyn Park

Joint venture that was formed in 2019 plans to open or acquire about a dozen surgery centers in five years.
Carol Robertson, who is 105 years old and living through her third pandemic, received a COVID-19 vaccination earlier this month. (ELIZABETH FLORES •

Coronavirus variant spreading in Minnesota

Officials fear a second wave of more contagious virus strain could emerge.
M Health Fairview nurse Nicole Parr administered a dose of COVID-19 vaccine Friday afternoon to James Wells, 73, of Minneapolis.

Minnesota reports 884 new COVID-19 cases, 11 more deaths

The count for people with at least one vaccine dose now exceeds 742,000.
United Family Medicine nurse Julie Sharp vaccinated Roosevelt Austin Jr., 57, against COVID-19 earlier this month.   (AARON LAVINSKY • aaron.lavinsk

Minnesota hits 1 million mark with COVID-19 vaccine doses

The state postponed appointments at some community vaccination locations after severe winter weather in other parts of the country delayed at least part of this week's COVID-19 vaccine doses.
Downtown Rochester shown in April 2017. (Staff photo by Glen Stubbe/  ORG XMIT: MIN1705011357084164

Google will open first office in Minnesota, and it's not in the Twin Cities

Rochester location fits with the tech giant's Mayo Clinic collaboration.
Mary Turner called for ending the pandemic via fair vaccine distribution.

North Memorial Health Hospital nurse named to Biden COVID task force

Mary Turner, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association, will join group focused on health inequities.
UnitedHealth Group earlier this month promoted Andrew Witty to chief executive, effective immediately. (Photo by Richard Fleischman/UnitedHealth Group

New UnitedHealth CEO Witty could see $18.8 million in pay for 2021

After abrupt departure, former CEO will see salary and incentive pay for two years.
Occupation health nurse Kari Cline prepared a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for a health care worker at North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale.

U studies antibodies for short-term immunity vs. COVID-19

Antibodies show promise in virus prevention efforts, not just treatment.
Yvonne Brazelton, 64, of St. Paul, winced as she received a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Friday at a United Family Medicine clinic in St. Paul

Minnesota reports 1,030 new COVID-19 cases, 17 more deaths

The count for people with at least one vaccine dose now exceeds 525,000.
Nurse Holly Vilione comforted Deb Ulrich as she visited her COVID-stricken husband in the ICU. For weeks, Vilione gave Ulrich phone updates from North

For Minnesota nurse on front lines, COVID-19 fight is personal

A COVID death in the family brings home patients' suffering, with the pain of that loss deepening her commitment to her difficult work.
Linda Kenny, 70, of Robbinsdale, received her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday at Minnetonka Medical Center.

Minn. hospitals criticize state's COVID-19 vaccine allocations

Some providers have not received any vaccine for weeks, the trade group said, adding that the new state COVID-19 vaccine allocation system deprives some rural communities of doses needed for patients.
Andrew Witty, new chief executive officer, is returning to UnitedHealth Group after a stint with the World Health Organization.

UnitedHealth makes sudden CEO change, elevating Witty

David Wichmann is stepping down as the Minnetonka insurer's chief executive. Andrew Witty, the head of its Optum subsidiary who worked with the World Health Organization last year, now leads the whole company.
Minnesota health insurance coverage held steady despite pandemic

Minnesota health insurance coverage held steady despite pandemic

Growth in government-based coverage offset declines in employer-based health insurance.
A Minneapolis VA Health Care System employee recently received a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Coronavirus variant finding in Minnesota raising questions

Scientists are trying to learn more about the coronavirus strain linked to Brazil because health officials don't know for sure if it's spreading in Minnesota.
Occupation health nurse Kari Cline prepared a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for a health care worker at North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale l

Minnesotans get erroneous vaccine e-mails, then apologies

The glitch wrongly told people waiting for their second doses that appointments are "no longer valid."
Hailey Hammond, with the U.S. Air Force, vaccinated teachers at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul on Thursday.

Minnesota reports 1,087 new COVID-19 cases, 19 more deaths

The count for people with at least one vaccine dose now exceeds 381,000.
Registered nurse Darcey McCampbell measured a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in preparation for administering a shot last week in Brooklyn Center

Minnesota on guard against the coronavirus variants

Two weeks after the Department of Health reported the state's first cases, health officials are expanding the genetic sequencing work that scientists perform to document the new strain.
A Minneapolis VA Health Care System employee received a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Minnesota reports 1,565 new COVID-19 cases, 31 more deaths

The count for people with at least one vaccine dose now exceeds 229,000.
UnitedHealth Group headquarters in Minnetonka. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

UnitedHealth Group beats profit estimates despite COVID-19

Pandemic costs hit earnings from the company's health insurance division.
Dr. Sophia Kim, an internist at North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale, drew a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in December.

Minnesota reports 1,529 new COVID-19 cases, 37 more deaths

The count for people with at least one vaccine dose now exceeds 174,000.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield, shown in 2020.

Minnesota reports first cases of coronavirus variant

The new strain was detected in specimens from five residents in the Twin Cities metro area, the Minnesota Health Department says.
A pharmacist in Chandler, Ariz. prepares an injection during a trial for Regeneron’s antibody treatment, Aug. 12, 2020.

Slow uptake for promising new COVID-19 treatment in Minnesota

Some medical centers are reporting a surprising lack of patient interest in the outpatient antibody therapy, state health officials say.
Plymouth police Sgt. Heath Bird received the COVID-19 Moderna vaccine from nurse Gloria Christensen at a vaccine clinic for first responders at Wayzat

Minnesota reports 2,489 new COVID-19 cases, 43 more deaths

State officials are watching for a potential increase in cases following holiday travels.
Dr. Sophia Kim, an internist at North Memorial, drew a dose of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine with a syringe Monday morning.    ] AARON LAVINSKY

HealthPartners studying COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant women

Research will monitor recipients for impact on pregnancy, birth outcomes.
HCMC paramedics moved a person from Augustana Apartments who was having difficulty breathing to a nearby ambulance and later transported to a hospital

Minnesota is trending toward a grim holiday milestone with COVID-19 deaths

Less than two weeks old, December has already become the second-deadliest month for COVID-19 in Minnesota.
Critical care nurses and respiratory therapists flipped a COVID-19 patient upright in North Memorial’s South Six Intensive Care Unit in Robbinsdale

Minnesota reports 4,447 new COVID-19 cases, 67 more deaths

The latest numbers pushed the seven-day rolling average for new cases to the lowest reading since early November.