Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and North Memorial Health Join Forces to Transform Healthcare in Minnesota


Logos for Blue Cross Blue Shield Minnesota and North Memorial Health

(Minneapolis-St. Paul) June 24, 2019 – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) and North Memorial Health have announced a transformative new joint venture agreement that has both organizations becoming shared owners of North Memorial Health clinics. North Memorial Health will own 51 percent of the joint venture. Blue Cross, through its parent company, is purchasing a 49 percent ownership stake in the clinics.

The agreement encompasses 20 primary and specialty care clinics in the Twin Cities that operate under the North Memorial Health brand. The clinic business entity will be structured separately from both parent organizations and managed through a newly created CEO position and board of directors. Jennifer Close, currently President and Chief Ambulatory Officer at North Memorial Health, has been named CEO of the joint venture. Close has 30 years of experience in leadership positions at healthcare provider and insurance organizations.

The ambitious goal of forging a payer/provider partnership that could simultaneously reshape both the cost and delivery of care was spearheaded by two CEOs who also happen to be MDs: Dr. Craig Samitt of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and Dr. J. Kevin Croston of North Memorial Health. As caregivers themselves, Samitt and Croston heard what consumers were saying – they want something different from the care system to help them live healthier lives.

“Healthcare costs too much, and it is too often difficult for people to understand and navigate. With this joint venture, we’re removing confusion from the equation,” said Dr Samitt. “Blue Cross and North Memorial Health have come together to transform healthcare in Minnesota in a way that no others have, and the winner will be the consumer.”

The shared ownership model was designed by both organizations to have North Memorial Health clinics serve as the epicenter of healthcare transformation within Minnesota. The emphasis on value-based payments over volume of services will provide consumers with more affordable care, better patient experiences, increased price transparency and more predictability of future medical costs.

A key goal of the shared ownership structure is to reduce the overall cost of care by up to 20 percent over five years. The model will focus on wellness, prevention and health outcomes, rather than consumption of services.

“Incremental change has been holding the healthcare industry back for too long. The industry is moving too slow, so we are taking bold action to create a transformative solution that is consumer friendly, improves the quality of care and delivers outcomes that are measurably better than others. It is our mission to deliver this change with and for the communities we serve by keeping the healthcare consumer at the center of everything we do,” Dr. Croston said.

Recent mergers and consolidations within the healthcare industry have not resulted in lower pricing or better service to consumers. This new joint venture aims to change that trend. Blue Cross and North Memorial Health don’t see this as just an ownership change. It’s an integrated approach to manage costs with their respective strengths coming together.

Croston and Samitt say the shared ownership will also provide a comprehensive continuum of care based on where consumers want it – in the home, in the community or online. The result will be care that is more accessible, more local and more convenient.

“We will transform service and take consumers out of the middle of interactions with their doctor and insurer,” Dr. Samitt and Dr. Croston agreed. “We’ll take care of the hassle, so consumers can focus on their health.”

While implementation of the shared ownership model will begin in January 2020, Blue Cross and North Memorial Health view this as just the beginning of their relationship – and an important first step in revolutionizing the way healthcare is delivered in Minnesota.


Katy Sullivan
North Memorial Health

Jim McManus
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota

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

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, with headquarters in the St. Paul suburb of Eagan, was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota’s first health plan and continues to carry out its charter mission today: to promote a wider, more economical and timely availability of health services for the people of Minnesota. A nonprofit, taxable organization, Blue Cross is the largest health plan based in Minnesota, covering 2.9 million members in Minnesota and nationally through its health plans or plans administered by its affiliated companies. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago.