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
Allina Health is building in Lakeville a new specialty center that’s expected to start operating in 2023.

Allina selects site for $150 million replacement hospital in Cambridge, Minn.

New facility in Isanti County comes as the health system has construction projects in the south metro, too.
Dr. Paul Ellwood, chairman of InterStudy, at home on Christmas Lake in Excelsior on June 14, 1988.

How the 'Father of the HMO' helped make Minnesota a model for health care reform

Dr. Paul Ellwood's Minnesota think tank advised presidents and left an indelible mark with alumni, including the founder of UnitedHealth Group. Back then, HMOs "were the rebels pushing for change."
Ridgeview and Twin Cities Orthopedic are building a new fifth-floor addition to Two Twelve Medical Center, an outpatient facility in Chaska.

Ridgeview adding hospital beds for orthopedic cases to campus in Chaska

Joint venture with Twin Cities Orthopedics follows state approval to reclassify 20 beds previously used for rehabilitation
Medtronic, with operational headquarters is in Fridley, was the first company in Minnesota to publicly engage in the debate on abortion benefits in th

As states ban abortion, Minnesota's employers weigh medical travel benefits

After the Supreme Court's decision, state's largest companies with operations in multiple states — such as Medtronic, 3M and Ecolab — face decisions on health plans.
Mayo Clinic’s Gonda Building in Rochester.

Fired workers sue Mayo Clinic over COVID-19 vaccine mandate

More than two dozen former workers allege the clinic wrongly denied them religious exemptions.
The Mayo Clinic Gonda building in Rochester.

UnitedHealthcare, Mayo Clinic reach network agreement for Medicare Advantage patients

Seniors in UnitedHealthcare plans across the country will have in-network access to the Rochester-based clinic
Most who buy individual health insurance policies in Minnesota do so through the state’s MNsure health insurance exchange.

Health insurers seek premium increases up to 6% in individual market in Minn.

The range of proposed changes is lower than what carriers sought last summer for 2022 coverage.
UnitedHealth Group’s Optum division has its headquarters in Eden Prairie.

UnitedHealth Group unit paying $1.5B for UK tech company

The deal would extend Optum's work for nearly 20 years with the National Health Service in the United Kingdom.
“Every child in Minnesota deserves a healthy start, and that begins with the health of the mother,” Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said Thursday during a

Minnesota extends Medicaid coverage to 12 months after giving birth

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced approval of the state's plan.
Nurses and supporters picketed June 1 in front of North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale over staffing levels and COVID compensation.

What happened to those 2020 pay cuts? Final CEO pay numbers mixed in Minnesota

Some cuts in salary, bonus were offset by increases in "other" pay at hospitals; compensation jumped at health insurers
Terry Johnson had his vitals checked by nurse Cassie Jennison during their final weekly checkup at his home in Chaska on June 3. Johnson had a hip rep

Minnesota's largest hospitals saw revenue rebound in 2021 — but uncertainty remains

Patients returned in 2021 after $1 billion in financial support kept health systems break-even during the pandemic's first year.
Consumer protections under the federal No Surprises Act took effect at the beginning of the year.

Minnesotans still get surprise medical bills even after Congress tried to stop them

The federal No Surprises Act provides more protection for consumers, but consumers need to be on guard.
Mayo is marking the 35th anniversary of a program to host a pair of nesting peregrine falcons in Rochester. Four chicks were born in early May.

Young peregrine falcons learn to fly over Mayo Clinic in Rochester

The Rochester clinic is marking the 35th anniversary of a program to host a nesting pair atop one of its towering buildings.
The Mayo Clinic Gonda building in Rochester, Minnesota.

Labor costs cut into first quarter operating income at Rochester-based Mayo Clinic

Expenses grew faster than revenue due in part to contract labor and temporary premium pay for workers
Medtronic has its operational headquarters in Fridley.

Medtronic closes on deal to acquire Intersect ENT

The announcement came one day after the Federal Trade Commission imposed conditions on the acquisition.
Medtronic’s operational headquarters are located in Fridley.

FTC says Medtronic must divest subsidiary of device maker it wants to acquire

Medical device manufacturer is trying to buy Intersect NET Inc., a maker of sinus implants, in a $936.2 million deal.
Prime Therapeutics has its headquarters office in Eagan.

Prime Therapeutics paying $1.35 billion for Magellan Health's pharmacy business

The Eagan-based pharmaceutical benefits manager is acquiring Magellan Rx, a specialty drug manager for complex patients including those covered by Medicaid
Medica has its headquarters office in Minnetonka.

Medica paid nearly $233 million for majority stake in Wisconsin health plan

The Minnetonka-based health insurer recently disclosed financial details of the 2021 deal in a financial statement.
Bright Health Group has its headquarters in Bloomington.

Bright Health Group reports progress on claims processing, risk adjustment

Bloomington-based health insurer projects exiting small markets will help save $100 million.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota’s headquarters in Eagan.

Blue Cross parent's operating income slipped to $28.3 million in 2021

One-time factors impacted earnings for a third consecutive year at the state's largest nonprofit health insurer
Minnesota regulators are seeking a fine against CVS Caremark on allegations the pharmaceutical benefit manager wrongly steered patients to CVS retail

Minnesota seeks $1.25 million fine against CVS Caremark over pharmacy rules

Civil money penalty is the largest the Commerce Department has sought under new state regulations for pharmaceutical benefit manufacturers.
Richard Burke in a 1987 file photo.

UnitedHealth Group founder to retire from the board after more than 40 years

Richard Burke launched the company that became UnitedHealth Group and was CEO through 1987. The health care giant is now America's fifth-largest public company.
UnitedHealth Group is buying Massachusetts-based Atrius Health. It would be under UnitedHealth’s Eden Prairie-based Optum division.

UnitedHealth Group offers $236M to buy Massachusetts medical group

With more than 690,000 adult and pediatric patients, Atrius Health would become part of UnitedHealth's Optum division for health care services.
The federal government took several steps to expand and preserve health insurance coverage during the pandemic including more subsidies through the MN

Minnesota reports lowest-ever uninsured rate, but racial disparities worsened

One in 10 Minnesotans of color and American Indians lacked coverage, even as the statewide uninsured rate dropped to 4%.
M Health Fairview Masonic Children’s Hospital is part the University of Minnesota Medical Center.

Fairview Health Services lost nearly $133 million last year amid COVID challenges

Investment income and government aid carried the Minneapolis-based health system through a third consecutive year of operating losses.
HealthPartners headquarters in Bloomington.

HealthPartners income surges to $150 million with rebound in patient care

The Bloomington-based health insurer and hospital operator saw record claims for health care services in 2021.
Lab workers logged in specimen samples at the Mayo Clinic Superior Drive facility on March 10, 2020, in Rochester.

Mayo Clinic investing $49 million to expand lab operation in Rochester

Construction is underway at a facility that saw a surge in demand for testing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minnesota’s critical care coordination center in St. Paul helped link patients with scarce hospital beds during COVID-19 surges. The pandemic was a

$1B in government aid helped financial performance at Minnesota hospitals

Hospitals saw a median operating margin of 1.2% during the first year of the pandemic — results that would have been much worse without emergency assistance.
Bright Health Group says it won’t sell health plans for individuals next year in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia.

Bloomington-based Bright Health to exit individual market in six states for 2023

Health insurer says the markets are expected to contribute less than 5% of total revenue this year.
UnitedHealth Group has its headquarters in Minnetonka.

UnitedHealth Group boosts outlook as quarterly profit exceeds $5 billion

The Minnetonka-based company saw growth in Medicare Advantage health plan membership and in its network of outpatient health care centers.
Bright Health Group has its headquarters in Bloomington.

Bloomington-based Bright Health fined $1 million in Colorado over operational missteps

The Colorado Division of Insurance said it received more than 100 complaints from consumers and health care providers about the health insurance company.
Minnesota is one of several states, along with federal lawmakers, to adopt or consider legislation to make insulin more affordable.

Savings from Minnesota insulin safety net program jumped to $6.9 million in 2021

The total value of insulin received by state residents from manufacturers tripled during program's first full year.
Deanna Mills

Deanna Mills, leader of safety-net clinics in the Twin Cities who saw health care as a matter of social justice, dies at 67

As executive director at three different community health centers, she forged collaboration among clinics across the Twin Cities.
Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, in downtown Minneapolis.

UnitedHealthcare partners with Twins on 'Sensory Suite' at Target Field

New space at ballpark for 'neuroatypical' ticket holders is meant to be a resource for those with autism and other developmental differences.
The Medicare Advantage open enrollment period ends Thursday.

Minnesota seniors face deadline for making switches in Medicare Advantage health plans

The three-month period for changes that ends Thursday can help seniors who've found coverage problems.
UnitedHealth Group is based in Minnetonka.

UnitedHealth Group paying $5.4B for Louisiana-based home health firm

The deal is the latest example of the company's push into direct patient care in settings outside hospitals.
Dr. Robert Wieland has been named chief executive at health insurer Allina Health Aetna.

St. Louis Park-based Allina Health Aetna names new CEO

Dr. Robert Wieland has been part of executive leadership at the joint venture health insurer since its founding in 2018.
Civica Rx expects to begin selling insulin in 2024, once it completes construction of a 140,000-square-foot pharmaceutical plant in Petersburg, Va.

Mayo-backed nonprofit Civica Rx plans to make low-cost insulin starting in 2024

The Rochester-based clinic was one of nine founding health systems that helped launch the manufacturer. It plans to sell insulin for a fraction of current prices.
Emily McDonagh holds her newborn daughter, Clare, Thursday at Maple Grove Hospital. North Memorial Health is buying out its partner Fairview Health to

North Memorial buys Fairview Health's stake in Maple Grove Hospital

The deal came six months after North Memorial's CEO described a "frustratingly slow" effort to agree with Fairview on expansion plans for the hospital.
UnitedHealth Group and its health insurance division UnitedHealthcare are based in Minnetonka.

UnitedHealth Group wins reversal in landmark case on behavioral health coverage

A federal appeals court found that the health insurer's interpretation of employer-sponsored health plan terms was "not unreasonable."
MNsure is engaging in a special enrollment program for just the second time since its start in 2014.

MNsure opens special enrollment period for Salvasen Health enrollees in Minnesota

About 550 Minnesotans must find new coverage after buying it from a Texas firm that wasn't licensed to sell health insurance in Minnesota.
Hilary Marden-Resnik, new CEO of UCare.

UCare names new CEO amid growth in Minnesota's public health insurance programs

Hilary Marden-Resnik is named chief executive as the Minneapolis-based nonprofit reports record enrollment.
Some Albert Lea seniors are frustrated their access to the new MercyOne clinic in town is limited by insurance rules.

Albert Lea seniors caught in insurance quagmire, with limited access to new clinic

Residents are asking the Minnesota attorney general to help resolve the issue.
UnitedHealth Group, based in Minnetonka, operates Optum, a health care services business, and UnitedHealthcare, the nation’s largest health insurer.

UnitedHealth Group blasts DOJ arguments in lawsuit over Change Healthcare deal

The Minnetonka-based health care giant says the government has "no basis in fact or law" for blocking the $13 billion acquisition.
Keith Nelson is stepping down at week’s end as general counsel at Bloomington-based Bright Health Group.

Bright Health Group general counsel stepping down, second executive departure in 2022

Bloomington-based health insurer has announced two exits by top executives in two months amid plunging share price.
UCare is a nonprofit health insurer with headquarters in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis-based UCare looks to expand into Iowa health insurance market

If successful, the nonprofit's bid for Medicaid business would continue a trend of Minnesota insurers seeking growth in the Hawkeye state.
Bright Health Group’s headquarters in Bloomington

Minnesota-based Bright Health cutting about 150 jobs following large losses

The health insurer says it's trimming approximately 5% of its 3,000-person workforce
Bright Health Group’s headquarters in Bloomington.

Risk adjustment, claims processing woes still troubling Bright Health Group

Bloomington-based health insurer's share price dropped 20% in early trading after releasing fourth-quarter results.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is suing GS Labs, saying the company overcharged it for COVID-19 tests.

Blue Cross claims 'profiteering' by lab in COVID-19 testing

Litigation seeks to recover more than $10 million in alleged overpayments, but GS Labs calls the complaint an example of "strong-arm gamesmanship" by health insurers.
Mayo Clinic’s operating income rose 66% in 2021 to $1.2 billion, a record. File photo of the Mayo Clinic Gonda building in Rochester.

Mayo Clinic's operating income soared to $1.2B last year

More patients visited Mayo's clinics in Minnesota, Arizona and Florida in 2021 — and when hospitalized, they stayed longer.
Aaron Collins reviewed a mask from his Minneapolis home.

The 'Mask Nerd' of Minneapolis wants you to be safe

Testing the quality of masks has made Aaron Collins a social media star and go-to source for wisdom on personal protective equipment.
Abbott Northwestern Hospital is planning a new 10-story building to expand patient care space on the medical center’s campus in Minneapolis.

Abbott Northwestern planning new 10-story hospital building in Minneapolis

Construction of the approximately 500,000-square-foot addition to the medical center campus would begin in late 2022 or early 2023.
The Department of Justice in Washington, July 11, 2020.

Justice Department sues to block UnitedHealth Group acquisition of Change Healthcare

The government alleges the proposed $13 billion acquisition would harm competition among health insurers and in the health care technology market.
Mayo Clinic announced Tuesday plans for a 121-bed expansion at its hospital in Mankato including three vertical floors atop the emergency department,

Mayo Clinic spending $785 million to expand, replace hospitals in Florida, Minnesota and Wisconsin

The clinic is enlarging or enhancing medical centers in Mankato, La Crosse, and Jacksonville, Fla.
Critical care nurse Amy Berwald checked in on an intubated COVID-19 patient Feb. 8 at North Memorial Health Hospital’s South 7 Intensive Care Unit i

Minnesota health insurers passing more COVID costs to patients

Health plans are now treating the financial consequences of the infectious disease like other ailments.
The Mayo Clinic’s Gonda Building in Rochester in 2014.

Mayo Clinic raises pay increases more than previously planned, citing inflation concerns

Minnesota's largest employer announced guaranteed minimum wage increases of 4%, up from the previously announced 2%.
The Mayo Clinic Gonda building in Rochester.

Mayo stops scheduling some Medicare Advantage patients

Seniors in UnitedHealthcare plans are among those no longer getting clinic appointments due to capacity concerns. But the change also hints at a financial dispute.
Dana Erickson is the chief executive of Eagan-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota

Rating agency cites 'governance concern' in lowering outlook for Blue Cross of Minnesota

Moody's points to "lack of track record" among top executives plus low profitability and membership declines.
Alejandra Hernandez, 23, left, of Plymouth spoke with nurse Teresa Laing after getting a vaccine dose and a pack of KN95 masks Thursday at Hennepin Co

Counties begin distributing KN95 masks throughout Minnesota

Health agencies are giving out about 650,000 masks, primarily to people with limited access to higher-quality ones.
Former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli exits the U.S. Federal courthouse during his trial on Aug. 3, 2017, in New York.

Blue Cross of Minnesota to settle with 'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli's former drug company

Firm once led by "Pharma Bro" to pay insurers, including Eagan-based Blue Cross, up to $28 million under terms of the settlement
The federal government’s free N95 masks are now arriving in Minnesota pharmacies. People can take up to three masks per person, and there’s no nee

How to get your free N95 mask in Minnesota

The federal government's free N95 respirators are arriving in the state. What you need to know.
Hy-Vee’s more than 275 pharmacy locations in eight Midwestern states began receiving N95 masks from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Free N95 masks from government trickling in across Minnesota

Pharmacies say high-filtration face coverings are starting to arrive with more expected in Minnesota as soon as today.
Minnesotans are finding plenty of gaps and fine print in insurance providers’ coverage for at-home COVID-19 tests.

Want at-home COVID tests for free? Avoid these coverage pitfalls in Minnesota

Health plans have added plenty of fine print to the government mandate for coverage of rapid tests administered at home.
The MNsure call center in St. Paul.

Bigger tax credits drive 10% jump in MNsure sign-ups across Minnesota

More than 134,000 sought insurance coverage through the state's health exchange during open enrollment.
UnitedHealth Group, and its health insurance business UnitedHealthcare, are based in Minnetonka.

UnitedHealthcare partners with Walmart on free at-home COVID tests

Insurer says the cost of federally mandated testing might be offset by lower health care use with pandemic surges.
A health department worker handed out at-home COVID-19 test kits last month in Ohio. Minnesota health insurers are beginning to cover the cost of at-h

Health plans begin coverage for at-home COVID tests in Minnesota

State says consumers need to check first with insurers for details on how to access the new benefit.
A man, donning a surgical mask, walked through a downtown Minneapolis skyway. Thousands of large Minnesota employers are balancing the emotions of its

With no federal mandate, large Minn. employers consider vaccine requirements

Employers with diverging camps in their workforces — the vaccine hesitant and the exposure averse — will now have to choose their battle.
Hannah Justin, Cat Urlich, Aubrey Davis and Lizzie Stenhaug play Mario Kart on Nintendo 64 during game night at Stenhaug’s Golden Valley home on Fri

Omicron's speed drives shift in Minnesota's COVID-19 mindset

Infections might seem inevitable, but health officials stress that prevention still works — and is crucial in the near term.
Patty Ruiz works during her shift at Cambria. The company’s CEO said private sector mandates put companies like his “in a real pickle” over priv

Employers adjust plans after court halts vaccine mandate

Private employers have more control over their corporate vaccination policies, but health care providers will still need to meet the federal mandate requirements.
The Mayo Clinic Gonda building in Rochester.

Mayo dropping 700 workers for lacking COVID vaccination

Rochester-based health system says about 1% of employees did not comply with vaccine mandate.
Pregnant women not only avoid severe illness by getting vaccinated, but they also pass high levels of antibodies on to their babies, researchers say.

Minnesota study provides more evidence of COVID-19 vaccine safety for pregnant women

The report from Bloomington-based HealthPartners and other centers found that COVID-19 vaccines have not caused preterm or small-for-gestational-age births.
People used the COVID-19 testing site at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Nov. 20. It is free to Minnesota residents and out-of-state res

Crowding prompts Minnesota to halt walk-in COVID testing at MSP

Appointments now needed for Minnesota Department of Health testing site at the airport.
COVID-19’s pressure on hospitals has eased a bit since mid-December, when the emergency department at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids was so full that

Minnesota's COVID-19 rate drops to 30th amid U.S. omicron surge

Positivity rate of COVID-19 testing has increased as Minnesota weighs impact of holidays, latest variant.
Luis Stalin Sumba listened as Nick Hetchler interpreted for nurse Amir Hassan before Sumba was discharged at Hennepin Healthcare last week.

State's vaccine pioneers reflect on pandemic's rollercoaster year

Twelve months after becoming among the first to get vaccinated, health care workers worry about what may come next with COVID-19.
The pediatric intensive care unit at Children’s Minnesota in Minneapolis will add beds in the coming year.

Children's Minnesota plans to shift ICU capacity to Minneapolis campus

St. Paul campus will lose pediatric intensive care at some point in 2022 while adding an inpatient psychiatric unit.