Improved support for better mental health outcomes

Behavioral health

WPS Health Solutions scaled up behavioral health services in its WPS Health Insurance and WPS Government Health Administrators divisions.

WPS Health Insurance
  • Expanded access to mental health and substance use disorder providers.
  • Removed barriers to evidence-based treatments.
  • Provided education to customers, agents, and group leaders to de-stigmatize mental health treatment but also develop awareness about options.
  • Improved adherence to evidence-based treatments for mental health/substance use services.

In expanding access for mental health and substance use disorder treatment, WPS has contracted with an increasing number of providers.

2020 2021 2022 2023
3,534 31% 4,640 55% 7,214 20% 8,646

Telehealth services have been increased for health insurance plans, allowing access to care 24/7. In 2023, WPS launched expanded access to virtual mental health and substance use disorder treatment via Teladoc for adolescents 13 –17 years old. As mental health and substance use disorder treatments are now more routinely provided via telehealth in our network, expanding access for teenagers was an important aspect of expanding access to our customers and WPS employees.

Increased education reduced stigmas

Because we care about our customers’ mental health, WPS reaches customers through newsletters, social media, and blog posts promoting topical issues and health insurance information. In 2023, we published content promoting:

Tracked medication use

To help improve medication adherence, WPS worked with pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts to promote the necessity of taking medications as prescribed.

In 2022, antidepressant adherence was already a respectable 90.1%. Through the increased focus, however, antidepressant adherence was increased to 90.8% over the last year. Adherence above 80% is considered critical for maximum benefit of treatment. Changes made to the drug formulary in 2019 made antidepressants and anti-anxiety treatments $0 to reduce the cost-sharing burden for customers in evidence-based treatments.


WPS is pursuing mental health parity by continuing to evaluate parity between medical/surgical benefits and mental health/substance abuse disorder benefits. This includes nonquantitative treatment limitation (NQTL) comparative analysis for fully insured and self-funded commercial insurance plans to ensure we remain competitive within the health insurance industry.

Regulatory Services (within the Legal department) advises business leaders on compliance with the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). This includes, but is not limited to, business review of policies and procedures for coverage, claim and authorization denial/approval rates, network design and adequacy (including by coverage tier, when applicable), and provider payment structures, so that medical/surgical benefits are treated no more favorably than mental health/substance abuse services within our benefit plans and administration. Regulatory Services also monitors new legislation at the federal and state levels, including guidance from regulatory agencies regarding best practices for ensuring coverage equity.

WPS Government Health Administrators Division

Through a Depression Screening Innovation Challenge Grant project issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, this Medicare-focused division entered its third year of increasing the use of chronic care management and depression screening for Medicare beneficiaries in Medicare Jurisdictions 5 (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska) and 8 (Indiana and Michigan). The results were significant:

GHA reduced suicide attempts and increased depression screenings

The initiative for Medicare beneficiaries sought to increase this service in 2023 by educating providers (physicians and non-physicians) in our jurisdictions about how to get reimbursed for performing depression screening for their patients. We also used comparison reports to show providers how they were doing compared to their peers. Although we anticipated the gains made in year three would be less than years one and two, we were mistaken. In fact, the depression screening project continues to demonstrate improvements in its claims data. Importantly, we also continue to observe diminished claims for suicide attempts as rates of screening for depression increase.

Nurtured healthier communities

WPS Health Solutions and the WPS Charitable Foundation adjusted giving parameters and focused more than 50% of all giving on organizations that support mental health. In short, we put our money to work for mental health. Through these efforts, we increased mental wellness education, created pathways to receive care, and reduced stigmas associated with mental illness to improve health outcomes for our employees, their families, and the people we serve.

Poor mental health is a core driver of societal difficulties, including homelessness, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, crime, and incarceration. Reducing the stigma associated with mental illness through education will assist people in getting needed care faster.

WPS corporate giving’s philanthropic efforts focus on three main pillars:

  1. Strengthen community mental health and well-being.
  2. Cultivate a diverse and inclusive WPS.
  3. Diversify the supply chain ecosystem.

For the first time in our history, we put out an open call for applications, offering one-time grants ranging from $250 to $10,000 for qualified tax-exempt organizations that support our pillars. Opening our application process resulted in an increase in new organizations applying that may have never considered partnering with WPS in the past.

Community Partnership Pillars

This year, WPS awarded funding to the following 31 organizations working to advance mental health and well-being, creating diverse and inclusive teams, and diversifying our supply chain ecosystem. The 50% goal was surpassed, and we allocated 71% of funds to projects and initiatives focused on mental health and well-being.

  • Access Community Health Centers, Inc.
  • Aldo Leopold Nature Center, Inc.
  • American Cancer Society
  • American Heart Association
  • American Red Cross Wisconsin
  • Bayview Foundation
  • Breast Cancer Recovery
  • Bridge Lake Point Waunona Neighborhood Center
  • Bridges United Inc.
  • Custom Canines Service Dog Academy
  • Disability:IN Wisconsin
  • East Madison Community Center
  • Easter Seals Wisconsin
  • Edgewood College
  • First Tee – South Central Wisconsin
  • Freedom, Inc.
  • Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
  • Friends of the Monona Senior Center
  • Journey to Adult Success, Inc.
  • Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation WI
  • Love Reigns Corporation
  • Madison Public Art Project, Inc.
  • Madison Public Schools Foundation
  • Madison Reading Project
  • Madison365
  • Monona Grove Education Foundation, Inc.
  • The Road Home Dane County
  • Urban League of Greater Madison
  • WI LGBT Chamber of Commerce
  • WI Veterans Chamber of Commerce
  • YWCA Madison

The WPS Charitable Foundation, a charitable entity independent of WPS Health Solutions, works to make life better for others by supporting a network of trusted charitable organizations that provide valuable services to those in need. The Foundation’s giving strategy focuses on mental health, education, and essential services, such as food and shelter.

In 2023, the Foundation maximized the impact of giving by overlapping whenever possible. For instance, 50% of total funds was earmarked for organizations that provide mental health services to disadvantaged populations within the public school system, thereby supporting both mental health and education. Total funding for mental health was 73%.

WPS Charitable Foundation Recipients