PrimeWest Health History

Created in 1998, PrimeWest Health is a partnership of rural counties that have joined together to provide innovative health care coverage for their residents eligible for Minnesota Health Care Programs (MHCP). Currently, PrimeWest Health provides health care coverage for about 48,000 MHCP members each month.

PrimeWest Health originally served Big Stone, Douglas, Grant, McLeod, Meeker, Pipestone, Pope, Renville, Stevens, and Traverse counties. In 2008, Beltrami, Clearwater, and Hubbard counties joined the partnership. On January 1, 2020, 11 additional counties joined the PrimeWest Health governing board in anticipation of expanding the PrimeWest Health service area in 2023. These counties are Chippewa, Cottonwood, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Nobles, Redwood, Swift, and Yellow Medicine.

County-Based Purchasing (CBP)

The joint powers agreement that formed PrimeWest Health was made possible by a State law passed in 1997. This law is known as the County-Based Purchasing law or CBP. It lets counties directly pay for and manage the health care services for residents who are eligible for State and/or Federal assistance rather than relying on non-local Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs). This allows counties themselves to make the best use of State, Federal, and local resources to optimally serve eligible residents.


PrimeWest Health officially began health care operations in 2003 after several years of planning and collaboration among county commissioners, public health and social services officials, health care providers, and PrimeWest Health staff. We initially offered coverage through two programs: the Prepaid Medical Assistance Program (PMAP; now called Families and Children) and Prepaid General Assistance Medical Care (PGAMC). Since that time, we have added five more programs. In 2005, we began offering coverage through Minnesota Senior Care Plus (MSC+), MinnesotaCare, and PrimeWest Senior Health Complete (HMO SNP). We began providing Medicare Part D benefits for eligible members in PrimeWest Senior Health Complete in 2006. In 2008, we began serving the needs of people with disabilities through Prime Health Complete (HMO SNP) and Special Needs BasicCare (SNBC). In 2010, the State discontinued the PGAMC program.

Community Reinvestment

Serving socially, economically, and medically vulnerable residents of rural Minnesota presents special challenges that PrimeWest Health is uniquely qualified to handle because we are owned by the counties we serve, and all of our owner counties are rural. One way we address these challenges is through our Community Reinvestment Program (CRP). Since our inception, we have awarded millions of dollars in CRP grants to providers and community organizations for projects designed to improve our members' health and health care.

Achievements and Recognition

PrimeWest Health has been recognized as an innovator on both a local and national scale. See the links below for a summary of each year’s achievements and milestones.