Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and North Memorial Health Announce Update to Shared Business Partnership


Logos of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and North Memorial Health

North regains full ownership of 25 clinics with conclusion of joint venture; Both organizations remain committed to ongoing collaboration.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) and North Memorial Health (North) today announced a mutual decision to pursue their respective strategic priorities without the continued ownership structure of a joint venture (JV). As a result, both organizations have agreed to terms that will end the shared ownership of the JV legal entity Blaze Health, LLC, effective May 31. On that date, North will regain the 49% ownership stake in 25 primary care clinics, specialty care clinics, and hospice currently held by the parent company of Blue Cross.

“At North, our mission-driven teams remain focused on meeting the changing needs of the communities we serve throughout Hennepin County,” said J. Kevin Croston, MD, chief executive officer of North Memorial Health. “Blaze Health was born and launched from a pre-pandemic perspective. Just a few months later, the industry changed in ways that no one could have anticipated. I truly appreciate the collaboration with Blue Cross, both in our response to the pandemic and the work that went into the JV. I am confident we can best deliver on current and future priorities by continuing to collaborate and innovate though other approaches.”

“Our new strategic plan at Blue Cross is built on the growth and expansion of value-based care initiatives with multiple care systems and providers throughout our network,” said Dana Erickson, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. “Our experience working in an integrated healthcare model led to many productive insights and outcomes. I value the ongoing commitment we have with North Memorial Health to improving the health of our communities and I look forward to building upon the learnings that can benefit all Blue Cross members.”

Blue Cross members and North patients will not experience any disruption in their healthcare benefits or medical care. The conclusion of the JV, which launched in January 2020, will have no impact on the longstanding agreement that continues to have North as a valued participant in the Blue Cross provider network.

Joint Venture Accomplishments

  • The onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic led to Blue Cross and North quickly focusing their collaboration and shared resources on safeguarding the health of the community. At all stages of the pandemic, Blue Cross and North worked to increase rates of vaccination; provide equitable access to testing and treatment; and care for populations most impacted by health inequities. In the spring of 2021, as COVID-19 vaccine eligibility grew and supplies increased, Blue Cross nurses staffed a North Memorial Health pop-up vaccination clinic in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota in order to keep up with demand. The clinic administered 450 to 650 vaccines a day, with more than 65,000 vaccines delivered in total.
  • The new location of North Memorial Health Clinic – Blaine opened in October 2022 with an innovative “clinic-within-a clinic” to focus on care for local seniors. The senior clinic launched as a dedicated practice for Blue Cross Medicare Advantage members ages 65 and up. Starting in June 2023, the clinic will expand access to seniors with other health plans and insurance coverage.

About North Memorial Health

At North Memorial Health, we are on a mission to change healthcare. We’re delivering unmatched customer service and empowering our patients throughout the Twin Cities to achieve their best health. North Memorial Health offers a complete spectrum of primary care and specialty services to meet patient’s unique healthcare needs. North Memorial Health provides access to the high-quality, low-cost care throughout the Twin Cities through its specialty and primary care clinics, home care offering, medical transportation services and two hospitals – North Memorial Health Hospital and Maple Grove Hospital – and 900+ doctors and 5,000+ team members that are dedicated to delivering a more connected experience for our patients.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota

For 90 years, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota has supported the health, wellbeing and peace of mind of our members by striving to ensure equitable access to high quality care at an affordable price. Our 2.5 million members can be found in every Minnesota county, all 50 states and on four continents. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

For More Information

Jennifer Rengo
North Memorial Health

Jim McManus
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota