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
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 * gstubbe@startribune.com)  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 • liz.flores@startribune.com 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/glen.stubbe@startribune.com)  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.
Jessica Steele of St. Paul was tested at the drive-through COVID-19 testing site at North Memorial Health in Robbinsdale.

As case counts stabilize, COVID deaths in Minn. are surging

The state reported a record 399 fatalities last week, amid optimism over vaccine development and emerging treatments and concern about hospital capacity.
A medical worker administered a COVID-19 test to a patient Friday afternoon at North Memorial’s drive-up testing site in Robbinsdale.

Minnesota reports 6,337 new COVID-19 cases, 75 more deaths

Since the virus started infecting Minnesotans in March, the state has reported 345,281 positive cases, 18,059 hospitalizations and 3,920 deaths. The "positivity rate" has been holding relatively steady in the past week, but remains higher than doctors want to see.
UnitedHealth Group headquarters in Minnetonka.

Study will let some get COVID antibody treatment at home

In partnership with the drug company Eli Lilly, Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth said Friday it would enroll in the study up to 500,000 people across 46 states, including Minnesota, with at least 5,000 patients expected to receive the monoclonal antibody treatment.
Coon Rapids firefighter Darin Jahnke and Allina Health paramedics Kelsey Cook and Dan Lennartson helped a woman having a suspected COVID-19 medical em

Virus surge pushing ambulance transfers 'through the roof'

State data show that ambulances during the week before Thanksgiving handled 780 calls — the highest since the start of the pandemic — where patients tested positive for COVID-19, reported symptoms or said they might have been exposed.
Andrew Witty helped WHO on vaccine development and distribution.

UnitedHealth executive returns after COVID-19 vaccine work

Andrew Witty's return after more than seven months working with the World Health Organization on development of coronavirus vaccines comes as UnitedHealth Group weighs impact of virus.
Tammi Bertram and her children Kristalyn, 6, center, and Bentley, 9, took a COVID-19 test at the new saliva testing center in Inver Grove Heights, Wed

Minn. reports 9,040 new virus cases, 45 deaths over two days

With the latest figures, which cover two days, Minnesota has now seen 304,023 positive cases, 16,423 hospitalizations and 3,521 deaths since the pandemic arrive here in March.
Elizabeth Santoro, a medic with the Minnesota Air National Guard’s 133rd Medical Group, administered a free COVID-19 test to Thomas Harmon, 61, of R

Minnesota shatters daily record of COVID deaths with 101

With the latest numbers, Minnesota has now seen 3,476 deaths since the pandemic hit in March. "This is a sad development, but it is not a surprising development," Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said.
Infusion Therapy Center nurse Heidi Leibold administered treatment to COVID-19 patient Jay Clark at Mayo Family Clinic Northwest on Thursday, Nov. 19

Mayo launches therapy to prevent COVID-19 hospitalizations

The clinic is the first in Minnesota to administer the antibody treatment.
Andy Barnes, RN, attended to a COVID-19 patient in the ICU at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids on Tuesday.

Minnesota reports 6,265 new COVID-19 cases, 51 more deaths

Since the pandemic arrived in Minnesota in March, the state's pandemic tallies include 262,952 positive cases, 14,745 hospitalizations and 3,201 deaths. With the latest numbers, an average of about 13.5% of reported tests have been positive over the past week.
Hospitals face uncertainty as exponential growth of COVID-19 is forcing renewed limits on nonemergency procedures.

Minnesota hospitals worry despite operating profits

Q3 operating income didn't fully make up for losses earlier this year.
Minnesota is slated to receive 25 staffed ambulances from FEMA to help hospitals transfer patients to other medical facilities because of the COVID-19

FEMA ambulances deployed to help transfer Minn. patients

The state is getting 25 staffed ambulances from the federal government to help hospitals transfer patients so medical centers are better prepared for a surge of critically ill patients.
The new COVID-19 drug bamlanivimab is for people with mild to moderate cases of the infectious disease.

State will get small supply of drug similar to Trump's treatment

Minnesota is beginning to receive limited supplies of a new COVID-19 therapy that could reduce the need for hospital stays and trips to the emergency…
HCMC paramedics on Friday, Nov. 13, transported a resident from Augustana Apartments who was having difficulty breathing.

Minnesota in 'desperate and dangerous place' with COVID-19

Health officials stressed the skyrocketing count wasn't due to a backlog or some other reporting anomaly, but rather, the rapid spread of a virus that will likely produce rising death counts and hospitalizations for weeks to come.
HCMC paramedics moved a patient who was having difficulty breathing from Augustana Apartments to a nearby ambulance Friday in Minneapolis.

Minnesota reports record 8,703 new virus cases, 35 more deaths

The latest reading continues a recent trend of steady increases in the "positivity rate" for tests across the state — a worrisome sign, doctors say, for COVID-19 spread. Newly confirmed deaths included 27 in congregate care settings.
St. Joseph's Hospital in St Paul.

Citing COVID-19, nurses push to preserve ER in St. Paul

Fairview says the ER closure will have no impact on care for COVID-19 patients at St. Joseph's. Many pandemic patients aren't admitted through the emergency room, the health system says.
Tyler Johnsen, left, 20, and Isaac Peterson, right, 19, both students at North Central University in Minneapolis, got tested with friends who had all

As cases surge in Minnesota, Midwest, hospitals scramble to keep up

Severe spike in COVID-19 cases, deaths has hospitals fearful of falling behind.
The MNsure call center in St. Paul is shown in an Oct. 28, 2016 file photo. (Photo by Glen Stubbe * gstubbe@startribune.com) ORG XMIT: MIN191224112053

As Supreme Court takes up ACA challenge, MNsure pushes sign-ups

MNsure enrollment urged despite ACA arguments before the Supreme Court.
Cheryl Odegaard, a medical assistant at St. Luke’s Respiratory Clinic in Duluth, administered a COVID-19 test in September.

Minnesota reports 4,647 new COVID-19 cases, 34 more deaths

Newly confirmed deaths included 18 in congregate care settings.
In 2015, UnitedHealth Group decided Max Tillitt's health plan would no longer pay for residential treatment of his substance abuse disorder. Within mo

Judge: UnitedHealth must redo 67K claims denied under 'overly restrictive guidelines'

Judge says insurer's initial coverage used guidelines "to protect its bottom line."
Andrea Walsh, president and CEO of HealthPartners, which is the latest insurer to offer financial help for customers in the midst of fewer claims.

HealthPartners offering $40 million in pandemic credits

Bloomington-based carrier joins trend as insurers see fewer claims from patients.
Lori Kadlec, right, co-owner of Kaddy’s Kafe in La Crescent took the temperature of dishwasher Katie Konniff when she arrived for a shift.

A runaway October for infections in Minnesota

The number of positive cases reported Saturday topped the 3,000 mark for the second day in a row, reflecting a surge that's approaching what is now being seen in Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas.
Finn Marube, a clinical scientist with North Memorial, administered a COVID-19 test to Sandra Lynn White, of Minneapolis, in Robbinsdale in July.

Minnesota reports 3,021 new virus cases, 20 more deaths

October's final COVID-19 data release continued Minnesota's recent trend of more virus deaths and escalating case counts.
Children's Minnesota is the state's largest pediatric medical center.

Children's Minnesota eliminating 150 jobs in midst of COVID-19

State's largest pediatric medical center cites financial losses from pandemic, need for efficiency.
“If I get it, I get it.” Eugene Tessmer, 86, who farms near Caledonia, is resigned to the virus’ spread.

After dodging worst of COVID, rural Minn. 'lit up with cases'

Case counts are surging in rural communities like never before. Since the beginning of October, the 10 Minnesota counties with the fastest case growth are all in rural parts of the state.
Health care workers at Bethesda Hospital with a COVID-19 patient in May. Hospitals across Minnesota say they still have room to treat those with serio

COVID-19 case surge stoking worries in Minnesota

Doctors fear more deaths and serious illness as big case growth continues.
Cheryl Odegaard, a medical assistant at St. Luke’s Respiratory Clinic in Duluth, prepared to administer a COVID-19 test to a patient in the drive-th

Minnesota reports 2,268 new virus cases, 14 more deaths

Newly confirmed deaths included nine in congregate care settings.
Tony Miller, CEO of Bind Benefits.

Minneapolis health insurance startup Bind Benefits raises $105 million

The startup is launching fully insured health plans in dozens of states in 2021.