Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Expands Provider Network for Rural Minnesotans with Homeward

Through a value-based agreement, Homeward clinical teams to focus on closing gaps in care delivery for Blue Cross Medicare Advantage members in 24 counties

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) and Homeward, a company with Minnesota ties and a commitment to rearchitecting the delivery of health and care in partnership with local communities, began a new value-based collaboration designed to increase access to healthcare for outstate Minnesotans.

Beginning this spring, Blue Cross Medicare Advantage members residing in 24 Minnesota counties outside of the Twin Cities metropolitan area will have access to Homeward’s care experience, which includes in-home visits, community-based visits, and technology-enabled clinical services including telehealth. The two organizations are working together to identify qualifying patients who are not currently engaged to receive the care they need or have known gaps in care. Over time, Homeward and Blue Cross plan to continue expanding the offering to additional Minnesota counties.

Through partnerships with regional health systems and providers, Homeward coordinates all aspects of the care journey, including high-quality referrals and additional support post-discharge, and is focused on delivering improved health outcomes across rural populations and communities. The company also pledges to recruit locally and in a manner that supports local workforces, including existing clinics and hospitals in the areas it serves.

Homeward will have a full-risk value-based arrangement for Medicare Advantage members, meaning payment for care is 100 percent tied to improving health outcomes and reducing the total cost of care.

“Our agreement with Homeward is another important step for Blue Cross’ nationally recognized Medicare Advantage plans,” said Dr. Mark Steffen, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. “Blue Cross and Homeward will be working with local hospitals, clinics and care systems in each community to ensure that, together, we can work to solve one of the biggest challenges in the healthcare system today. We are excited for the opportunity to increase our support for populations and communities that are in need of more healthcare resources.”

The agreement aims to take on current inequities of rural healthcare, namely:

  • In the United States, 80 percent of rural counties lack a sufficient number of primary care providers, according to the National Rural Health Association’s Policy Institute
  • According to a 2022 report from Minnesota Department of Health, only 20 percent of healthcare providers serve rural Minnesota communities, with more than a quarter of rural physicians planning to leave the workforce within the next five years
  • Approximately 40 percent of all Blue Cross members reside outside of the Twin Cities area

“I cannot be more proud to partner with the largest health plan in my native state of Minnesota to deliver care,” said Dr. Jennifer Schneider, co-founder and CEO of Homeward, who grew up in Winona, Minn. “Homeward’s mission is personal, and the opportunity to provide an end-to-end care experience for deserving individuals is a privilege. I am grateful for Blue Cross’ innovative approach and commitment to delivering the best care experience and outcomes.”

The 24 Minnesota counties where Homeward will have a presence are: Becker, Benton, Big Stone, Cass, Clay, Chippewa, Crow Wing, Douglas, Grant, Hubbard, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Morrison, Otter Tail, Pope, Redwood, Renville, Stearns, Swift, Todd, Wadena, and Wilkin.

More information about Blue Cross’ Medicare plans can be found at To learn more about Homeward, visit or call (844) 670-2273.