WPS News



Zachary Rhyner saluted for Operation Fan Mail

12/17/2012

Fund-raising bells will be ringing until Dec. 24

WPS Health Insurance, the leading not-for-profit provider of health insurance in Wisconsin and the state's top provider of affordable group and individual health insurance, is supporting The Salvation Army of Dane County in its Red Kettle Campaign through Dec. 24.

WPS has supported the fundraiser for more than 15 years, according to Chuck Grant, former WPS vice president of human resources and current member of the Salvation Army of Dane County board of directors. "The best part about this event for WPS is the employee involvement," he said. "Supporting an organization that does so much good in the community is really rewarding for everyone involved."

The Salvation Army depends on the campaign to raise a substantial portion of its annual operating budget. The money raised provides food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless, and opportunities for underprivileged children. For every dollar The Salvation Army spends, 82 cents is used to support those services in 5,000 communities nationwide. This year's goal for the Dane County group is $700,000.

The 2012 Red Kettle Campaign brings The Salvation Army's iconic kettles and 25,000 bell ringers to street corners and storefronts nationwide through Dec. 24. Look for WPS bell ringers at Madison's South Towne Shopko store.


WPS Health Insurance Offers Extended Rate Guarantee Option on Individual and Family Health Plans

12/5/2012

New option locks in rates until December 2014

WPS Health Insurance, the leading not-for-profit provider of health insurance in Wisconsin and the state's top provider of affordable group and individual health insurance, offers relief from the uncertainty of health care reform legislation with a new extended rate guarantee option. The option helps Wisconsin residents and their families protect themselves from unexpected rate increases that may result from new coverage mandates, taxes, and health insurance exchanges.

The new extended rate guarantee option allows qualified WPS members to lock in their health insurance premiums until December 2014. This option is available right now on WPS individual and family plans, from traditional PPO plans to health savings account (HSA)-qualified plans with effective dates of Jan. 1, 2013 or later.

The new extended rate guarantee option can help members avoid the uncertainty associated with the new rules and the implementation of the law. For more information, see the Get a Quote page on the WPS website.


WPS Health Insurance Launches Your Health Matters Blog

11/12/2012

Online resource will cover health and health insurance issues

WPS Health Insurance, Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurer and provider of affordable group and individual health insurance, now offers the new Your Health Matters blog to provide Wisconsin residents with information on health and health care coverage-related topics. The blog allows readers to comment and interact with WPS contributors to share experiences and ask questions.

"The blog offers a fun, friendly place where anyone can get the information they need to make better decisions about their health care and health insurance coverage," said Stephanie Tervort, manager of marketing communications. "We're very excited to reach out to our members and the general public in this new way. I'm looking forward to some great conversations."

At least twice a week, articles will be posted to help readers:

  • Gain a better understanding of health insurance topics and terminology
  • Get healthy and stay healthy with wellness tips, information, and self-help tools
  • Join the conversation and find answers to their own pressing questions
Look for the Your Health Matters blog online at wpshealthblog.com for more information.


WPS Health Insurance Staffing Reductions Will Not Affect Benefits for Members

11/6/2012

WPS Health Insurance announced today that it is adjusting its resources in response to competitive pressures and recent losses in the government contract market.

The company will adjust resources across the corporation. Staffing impacts could affect 600 positions, though this number is subject to change. The actual adjustments and timeframe depends on the outcome of protests and additional opportunities.

Adjustments will occur in phases over the next year. Notices to staff will begin as early as November 2012.

Recent activity in the company's government business lines makes the reductions necessary.

In its TRICARE Division, the company served as a subcontractor to TriWest Healthcare Alliance of Phoenix, who recently lost a contract to administer benefits in 21 western states. This contract expires April 1, but some administrative tasks will continue through September. Primary staffing impacts because of this contract loss will be at facilities in Madison and Wausau. WPS will keep the Wausau facility open and expects to have 50 employees working at that site.

In its Medicare Division, the company was recently awarded two significant Medicare contracts to administer Part A and Part B Medicare benefits in Indiana and Michigan, as well as Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. Despite these successes, WPS must do more with less to meet cost commitments that are a normal part of competitive bidding. Staffing impacts will be at facilities in Madison, Nebraska, and other out-of-Wisconsin locations.

Recently, the company was not awarded a contract that would have served Medicare beneficiaries and providers in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. WPS has filed a protest on this Medicare contract decision and expects to learn the results of the protest by mid-January.

"This is a very difficult process for WPS and its employees, but it is real and necessary", WPS CEO Mike Hamerlik said. "WPS will continue to focus on what makes us successful – understanding and meeting the needs of our customers."

In keeping with the corporate belief that employees are its most important asset, WPS is offering a severance benefit. Impacted employees can also apply for open positions at WPS, access outplacement services, and receive assistance in contacting employment opportunities through various agencies, like Wisconsin Job Service.


WPS Health Insurance Announces the Promotion of Tom Nelson to Replace Retiring Bill Beisenstein as Chief Financial Officer

11/18/2012

Nelson Brings 31 Years of Comprehensive Financial Experience in Health Care

WPS Health Insurance, the leading not-for-profit provider of health insurance in Wisconsin and the state's top provider of affordable individual health insurance, announced today that Tom Nelson has been promoted to chief financial officer effective October 1, 2012. Nelson replaced Bill Beisenstein, who retired from the company on September 28 after more than 24 years of service.

Beisenstein oversaw all WPS accounting, treasury, and facility functions, as well as the accounting function of WPS subsidiaries, EPIC Life Insurance Company and WPS Health Plan, Inc. (Arise). He also oversaw all building and office service functions and had executive oversight of dental products and the partnership with Delta Dental of Wisconsin. Before joining WPS, Bill served 15 years with accounting firm Grant Thornton, eight as a partner. Bill also served for two years as a senior accountant with Touche Ross & Company.

"It is with mixed feelings, but mostly great appreciation, that we say goodbye to Bill," said Mike Hamerlik, President and Chief Executive Officer of WPS. "Every day, Bill lived up to our values of honesty, integrity, ethical business practices, and community leadership. Though he is too humble to say it, Bill leaves a proud legacy of service and professionalism that his successor, Tom Nelson, will work hard to continue."

In his previous role as senior vice president of Commercial Business, Nelson was responsible for all commercial sales, marketing, actuarial services, underwriting, operations, medical affairs, and regulatory services. He joined WPS in 1981 as a staff accountant. Later serving as vice president of Accounting for 13 years, he oversaw the day-to-day accounting functions for WPS and its subsidiary businesses with a focus on cost, budgeting, and strategic planning. In 2009, Nelson was promoted to senior vice president of Commercial Business.

"We are very fortunate to have Tom to take Bill's place. Tom's many years with WPS make him well prepared for his new position. His extensive experience and deep understanding of the industry, as well as his passion for this company, will ensure that we continue to serve our customers well," said Hamerlik.

Said Nelson, "I couldn't be more excited to be WPS' new CFO. It's an exciting time in the industry and I look forward to partnering with Mike, our board, and the rest of the management team to execute our strategies and achieve great success."

Nelson brings to his new position more than 31 years of comprehensive financial experience in the health care industry in both private and governmental business. Nelson holds a bachelor of business administration degree in accounting from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He is also a certified public accountant.

"We are very fortunate to have Tom to take Bill's place. Tom's many years with WPS make him well prepared for his new position."
— Mike Hamerlik, President and Chief Executive Officer of WPS


WPS Health Insurance Announces Wisconsin's Top-Rated Part D Plans at New, Low Rates for 2013

10/01/2012

Reminder: Medicare Beneficiaries Must Make Their Part D Enrollment Selections by December 7 for Coverage That Begins January 1, 2013

WPS Health Insurance, Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurer and provider of the state's top-selling Medicare supplemental insurance plans,1 today announces its 2013 Medicare Part D plans, which offer highly rated, competitively priced prescription drug coverage to help Medicare beneficiaries save money on prescription drugs. In 2012, WPS MedicareRx (PDP) plans were rated the top Medicare Part D plans in the state, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for overall quality and service, including a perfect 5 out of 5 stars for drug pricing and patient safety.2

"Quality counts when it comes to prescription drug plans," said Tom Olson, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at WPS Health Insurance. "As the high costs of prescription drugs continue to rise, many Wisconsinites simply cannot afford to be without the protection of a quality drug plan. That's why WPS Health Insurance is so excited to offer new, lower rates on Wisconsin's top-rated Part D plans."

Premiums for the 2013 WPS MedicareRx plans are about 15% lower than last year's plans, making them an outstanding value for Wisconsin Medicare beneficiaries looking for dependable protection at a competitive price.

Today, more than 25,000 Wisconsin Medicare enrollees choose WPS MedicareRx plans, making WPS the leading not-for-profit Part D provider in the state.3

Medicare's Annual Enrollment Period is October 15 to December 7 this year

WPS reminds Wisconsin Medicare beneficiaries to make their Medicare Part D plan selections during Medicare's Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), which this year runs from October 15 through December 7.

During Medicare's AEP, all Wisconsin seniors are eligible for WPS MedicareRx plans, regardless of income level or assets, pre-existing conditions, or current prescription expenses. But it is critical for Medicare beneficiaries who are currently enrolled in a plan to make their selections now if they wish to change their coverage for 2013. Once the AEP ends on December 7, seniors will be unable to switch plans until January 2014 unless they qualify for a special enrollment period.

"When making coverage decisions, WPS recommends that individuals choose a plan based on long-term value and benefits," said Olson. "The lowest-cost plan is often not the best choice, and may not even be the most affordable choice if it comes with high out-of-pocket costs or high rate increases after the initial low rate."

Forty-six years of experience serving seniors on Medicare

WPS has served seniors on Medicare since Medicare began in 1966. Not only is WPS the leading not-for-profit Part D provider in the state, but it is also home to Wisconsin's #1-selling Medicare supplemental insurance plan,1 the WPS Medicare Companion, which today helps nearly 40,000 Medicare beneficiaries fill the gaps in Medicare coverage at competitive premiums.

"Quality counts when it comes to prescription drug plans." — Tom Olson, Senior V.P. of Sales and Marketing, WPS Health Insurance


WPS Health Insurance Offers Free Guide Discussing Proposed Changes to Medicare

9/28/2012

Free Guide Explores Five Proposed Changes and Their Potential Effects on Medicare Enrollees

WPS Health Insurance, Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurer and provider of affordable Medicare Part D plans and Medicare supplemental insurance, is offering a free eight-page guide aimed at helping Wisconsin residents learn about the proposed changes to Medicare being discussed by policymakers in Washington.

Today, nearly 47 million Americans—including more than 1 million Wisconsin residents—depend on Medicare to help them pay for health care. As the presidential election heats up and Medicare becomes a focal point of the debate, more and more Wisconsinites may wonder: "How might Medicare change in the years ahead, and what might these changes mean for me?" This free guide aims to provide some answers.

Available for free download from the WPS website, "5 Proposed Changes to Medicare: What You Need to Know" introduces Wisconsin residents to proposed changes that include: increasing the age of Medicare eligibility, changing the cost-sharing requirements of Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (doctor insurance), restructuring Medicare using a premium-support approach, and more. Some proposals could take effect almost immediately, while others would change the program slowly over a number of years.

"This latest free guide from WPS Health Insurance is an important resource for every Wisconsin resident who is interested in learning more about Medicare and the proposed changes that may affect them and their loved ones," said Jim Baird, vice president of individual sales at WPS Health Insurance. "The question right now is not if Medicare will change, but rather how and when it will change. As Americans and as consumers of health care, the answers will affect us all."

Included in the guide is a brief overview of some of the positive changes happening for enrollees in plan year 2013, such as expanded coverage for preventive-care benefits, increased coverage for prescription drugs, and financial incentives that reward hospitals for providing high-quality care. In addition, readers will find tips for choosing (or changing to) the right coverage to meet their needs, as well as contact information for reliable Medicare resources such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to the Social Security Administration.

Forty-six years of experience serving seniors on Medicare.

WPS has served Medicare enrollees since the program began in 1966. Today, the company's Medicare supplement plan, the WPS Medicare Companion, is the #1 choice of Wisconsin seniors, outselling all other Medicare supplements in the state.1 In addition, more than 25,000 seniors have enrolled in the company's Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plans, making WPS the largest not-for-profit Part D plan provider in Wisconsin2.

WPS encourages Wisconsin residents who have Medicare-specific questions to visit the Medicare website at www.medicare.gov or call 1 800 MEDICARE (800-633-4227).

1 Based on sales data submitted by insurers to the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, 2012. 2 CMS enrollment data, 3/2012.

"The question right now is not if Medicare will change, but rather how and when it will change." —Jim Baird, V.P. of individual sales at WPS Health Insurance


WPS Health Insurance Participates in the Madison Heart Walk®

9/25/2012

WPS offers more than 50 articles on heart-related issues through the online WPS Health Center

WPS Health Insurance, Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurer and provider of affordable group and individual health insurance, is a local sponsor of the American Heart Association's Madison Heart Walk. WPS is providing financial support and is anticipating a team of 200 or more walkers to help raise additional funds and awareness of heart-related diseases.

The Madison Heart Walk is a benefit for the South Central Wisconsin Chapter of the American Heart Association. This family-friendly event will be held Oct. 13 at Warner Park in Madison.

Since 1924, the American Heart Association has been the largest voluntary health association. It helps protect people of all ages and ethnicities from the ravages of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases. These diseases devastate millions of people of all ages and take more than 910,000 American lives each year.


Lottery Sweepstakes Scam!

9/4/2012

WPS Health Insurance has become aware of a lottery sweepstakes scam in which fraudulent checks bearing the WPS name are being utilized. Individuals are contacted via mail with a letter informing them that they are “winners” of a Continental Lottery Resource Management Inc. lottery, USA Lottery Sweepstakes, or other such lottery for amounts ranging from $250,000 to $300,000. Accompanying the letter is a fraudulent check bearing the “WPS Insurance Corporation” name. The instructions on the letter inform the “winner” that the attached check is a portion of the winnings provided to help pay taxes, insurance, handling, and shipping fees. The “winner” is also instructed to return a portion of the funds from the cashed check.

Individuals receiving this letter and check should be aware that individuals may be trying to gain access to their bank accounts, or other personal information. Individuals who cash the check may be putting themselves at financial risk. Once the bank determines the check is fraudulent, the individual who cashed the check could be held responsible for returning funds back to the bank. Anyone who receives this lottery sweepstakes scam letter and check are encouraged to report it to the WPS SIU Fraud Hotline number at 888-766-4681 and ask to speak to Cindy Severson.


WPS Health Insurance Observes Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

8/31/2012

Interactive Obesity article is one of hundreds of online health articles available 24/7 from the WPS Health Center

WPS Health Insurance, Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurer and provider of affordable group and individual health insurance, recognizes September as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, which is organized by the American College of Sports Medicine. Obese children can suffer from Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke, according to the Childhood Obesity Awareness Month (COAM) website. There are more than 23 million children and teenagers in the U.S. who are obese or overweight, the site states.

WPS Health Insurance supports healthy lifestyles and offers informational resources through the WPS Health Center, an online collection of health-related information. The health center article, "Obesity," offers valuable information about obesity related health risks and weight management strategies. The WPS health center also offers the interactive tool, "What's your child's BMI?" to help determine obesity risk in children ages 2-19.

"One of the best ways to fight obesity is to change your lifestyle," said WPS Senior Medical Director Dr. Marvin Wiener. "Dieting can be challenging. Rather than focus only on food, it's better to look at the big picture. To lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you consume. If you choose healthier foods and increase physical activity, you'll have a good start toward better health," he said. "If you have an overweight child, work with the child's doctor to develop a personalized weight loss plan," he concluded.


WPS Health Insurance Earns Full URAC Re-accreditation For Health Utilization Management

08/22/2012

URAC accreditation recognizes WPS' commitment to health care quality, accountability, and compliance with national standards

WPS Health Insurance, Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurer and provider of affordable group and individual health insurance, is proud to announce that it has once again been awarded full Health Utilization Management Accreditation from URAC, a Washington, DC-based health care accrediting organization that establishes quality standards for the health care industry. URAC's Health Utilization Management standards ensure that organizations conducting utilization review or management services follow a process that is clinically sound and respect patients' and providers' rights while giving payers reasonable guidelines to follow.

"WPS Health Insurance is honored to once again receive Health Utilization Management Accreditation from URAC," said Mike Hamerlik, president and CEO of WPS. "Every day, we work hard to promote cost-effective care with optimal outcomes. Achieving full re-accreditation demonstrates our commitment to these goals, underscores the quality of our work with members and health care providers, and reinforces our role as a leading Wisconsin health insurer."

URAC's Health Utilization Management standards establish consistency in the utilization management processes. They ensure that appropriately trained clinical personnel conduct and oversee the utilization review process, that a reasonable and timely appeals process is in place, and that coverage decisions are based on valid clinical criteria. WPS has maintained URAC accreditation since 1997.

"By applying for and receiving URAC Health Utilization Management Accreditation, WPS Health Insurance has demonstrated a commitment to quality health care," said Alan P. Spielman, URAC president and CEO. "Quality health care is crucial to our nation's welfare and it is important to have organizations that are willing to measure themselves against national standards."

URAC, an independent, nonprofit organization, is a leader in promoting health care quality through accreditation and certification programs. URAC's standards keep pace with the rapid changes in the health care system and provide a mark of distinction for health care organizations to demonstrate their commitment to quality and accountability. Through its broad-based governance structure and an inclusive standards development process, URAC ensures that all stakeholders are represented in setting meaningful standards for the health care industry. For more information, visit www.urac.org.


WPS Health Insurance To Once Again Sponsor the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's "Bike MS: TOYOTA Best Dam Bike Ride" in 2012

7/30/2012

29th annual fundraiser will draw nearly 2,000 cyclists and volunteers for a scenic trek from Milwaukee to the WPS campus in Madison

WPS Health Insurance, Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurer and provider of affordable group and individual health insurance, is proud to once again sponsor the National Multiple Sclerosis Society-Wisconsin Chapter's Bike MS: TOYOTA Best Dam Bike Ride. The two-day fundraiser takes place Saturday and Sunday, August 4–5. This year's event will feature a three-county ride from Waukesha County Technical College in Pewaukee to the WPS Health Insurance campus in Madison. Proceeds will support critical MS research and provide much-needed programs and services for Wisconsin residents with MS and their families.

"WPS is once again proud to be a partnering sponsor of this year's Best Dam Bike Ride," said Mike Hamerlik, president and chief executive officer of WPS. "It is our pleasure to support the Wisconsin Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and everyone whose lives are touched by this outstanding organization."

Each year, Bike MS: TOYOTA Best Dam Bike Ride brings nearly 2,000 cyclists, family members, friends, and volunteers together to move toward a cure for MS—a chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. This year, cyclists can choose to ride a 50-, 75-, or 100-mile route each day, as well as a new 25-mile, one-day route on Saturday. Their efforts help to make an extraordinary difference in the lives of more than 10,000 children, women, and men in Wisconsin who live with MS.

In addition to sponsoring the event, WPS will once again be represented by its very own cycling team. "WPS Spokes Crew" is led by co-captains Kerri Zastrow and Paul Brazeau, and includes team members Douglas Peters, Kevin Zalnis, David Lyons, Carlo Younger, and Kathy Muhs.

"We thank WPS Health Insurance for its partnering sponsorship," said Colleen Kalt, president and CEO of the National MS Society-Wisconsin Chapter. "WPS continues to be a terrific partner in our efforts to end multiple sclerosis. With every mile our bikers ride, we move closer to a cure."

In support of Bike MS: TOYOTA Best Dam Bike Ride participants, the Society provides frequent, fully stocked rest stops, mechanical and medical support, lodging, meals and entertainment, a finish-line celebration, transportation, and more. The fee to enter is $40. Participants must pledge a minimum of $300 to receive their rider numbers, and they may continue to fundraise and be eligible for incentives until September 16.

This is the second year WPS has sponsored Bike MS: TOYOTA Best Dam Bike Ride. An active supporter of local community organizations, WPS has also partnered with United Way, The Salvation Army, Komen Madison Race for the Cure, VSA Wisconsin, and many others.

For more information about Bike MS: TOYOTA Best Dam Bike Ride 2012 and how to register, please visit www.bikeMSwisconsin.org.

About the National MS Society

The National MS Society is a collective of passionate people dedicated to achieving a world free of multiple sclerosis. The Society funds cutting-edge research, drives change through advocacy, facilitates professional education, and provides programs and services that help people with MS and their families move their lives forward. The Wisconsin Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society proudly serves more than 10,000 residents diagnosed with MS, and those who love and care for them.


WPS Health Insurance Observes National Immunization Awareness Month

7/24/2012

Interactive "Immunizations" article is one of hundreds of online health articles available 24/7 from the WPS Health Center

August is National Immunization Awareness Month. Now is the perfect time to talk about vaccinations with family, friends, and coworkers. WPS Health Insurance, Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurer and provider of affordable group and individual health insurance, offers several articles about immunizations on its website to help readers get the information they need.

"Immunizations aren't just for kids," WPS Senior Medical Director Dr. Marvin Wiener says, "although children typically do require more vaccinations than adults. Everyone should get the shots they need to help protect against serious diseases and illnesses."

People 6 months old and older should get a seasonal flu shot every year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, healthfinder.gov. The site states that other shots to be considered include:

  • Children younger than 6 years old should get a series of shots to protect against measles, polio, chicken pox, and hepatitis.
  • All 11- and 12-year-olds should have shots to help protect against tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, and meningitis.
  • Doctors recommend girls aged 11 to 12 also get the HPV vaccine to protect against the most common cause of cervical cancer.
  • All adults need a tetanus shot every 10 years.
  • People age 65 should get a one-time pneumonia shot.

Talk to your doctor or nurse about which shots you and your family need. For more information on immunizations, visit the WPS Health Center and read our "Immunizations" article. It offers more specific information on vaccinations, reasons to get immunized, possible side effects, definitions of key terms, and more.


WPS Health Insurance is Pleased to Announce the Recipients of the 2012 WPS Charitable Foundations Scholarships

7/5/2012

WPS Health Insurance is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2012 WPS Charitable Foundation Scholarships. Forty-five children of employees of WPS and its subsidiaries qualified this year. Characteristics of the applicants include:

Gender: 23 females; 22 males

Location:

  • Wisconsin: 33 - Madison; 4 - Wausau; 3 – Green Bay
  • Illinois: 3 – Marion
  • Nebraska: 2 – Omaha

Parent works in: 12 - Medicare; 10 - TRICARE; 8 - Information Systems; 5 - Commercial Operations; 3 – Arise Health Plan; 2 – Securing Success (S2 ); 1 - Actuarial; 1 – Business Services; 1 – Corporate EDI; 1 – Employee Services; 1 – EPIC; 1 – Medical Affairs; 1 – Risk Management (Two applicants have both parents employed at WPS or its subsidiaries)

The following 10 high school seniors will receive the four-year Ray Koenig Memorial Scholarship, which is named in honor of the first president of WPS.

  • Paige Beuligmann, daughter of Kay Beuligmann (Medicare-Marion), graduated from Carterville High School and will be attending Murray State University
  • Alex Cordova, son of Julie Cordova (TRICARE-Wausau), graduated from Merrill High School and will be attending University of Wisconsin—La Crosse.
  • Bethany Detert, daughter of Dianne Detert (TRICAREWausau), graduated from Merrill High School and will be attending University of Wisconsin—Stevens Point
  • Erikajo Johnson, daughter of Lynne Johnson (Business Services–Madison), graduated from Oregon High School and will be attending University of Wisconsin—Platteville.
  • Samuel Loerch, son of Jay Loerch (Medicare–Omaha), graduated from Papillion-LaVista South High School and will be attending University of Nebraska
  • Daniel McKay, son of Daniel McKay (Medicare–Madison), graduated from Brodhead High School and will be attending University of Wisconsin—Madison.
  • Bradley O’Loughlin, son of John O’Loughlin (Commercial Operations–Madison), graduated from Madison Memorial High School and will be attending University of Wisconsin—Madison.
  • Trevor Ring, son of Mary Beth Ring (Commercial Operations–Madison), graduated from McFarland High School and will be attending Michigan State University
  • Evan Riniker, son of Patrick Riniker (Securing Success S²–Madison), graduated from New Glarus High School and will be attending University of Wisconsin—La Crosse.
  • Caitlin Voss, daughter of Lori Voss (Commercial Operations Madison), graduated from Verona Area High School and will be attending University of Wisconsin—La Crosse

In addition to children of employees, WPS has awarded four-year Ray Koenig Memorial Scholarships to one student from each of the following local high schools: Madison East, Madison La Follette, and Monona Grove.

  • Alyssa Gile graduated from Madison East High School and plans to attend the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. She is undecided about her major.
  • Kali Thibault graduated from Madison La Follette High School and plans to attend Lawrence University and major in chemistry.
  • Everett Mulroe graduated from Monona Grove High School and plans to attend DePaul University where she anticipates majoring in journalism and psychology


WPS Health Insurance Sponsors the 15th Annual Harley-Davidson "Thunder Run" Charity Ride to Cure Diabetes

7/1/2012

Organizers expect this year's event to raise more than $100,000

WPS Health Insurance, Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurer and provider of affordable group and individual health insurance, is proud to sponsor the 15th Annual Thunder Run Ride to Cure, a two-day fundraiser dedicated to the fight against diabetes. Hosted by 4 Lakes Capital City Harley Owners Group® (H.O.G.®), the event will take place Friday and Saturday, July 13 and 14, at Capital City Harley-Davidson in Madison. This year's goal is to raise $100,000, with all proceeds donated to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the American Diabetes Association. The Thunder Run has raised more than $1 million during the past 14 years.

Expected to draw hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts from across the state, this year's Thunder Run will feature a round-trip ride on Saturday from the Capital City Harley-Davidson dealership to the event's host city of Columbus.

Friday's Thunder Run events include a 12-stop poker run through the scenic hills, valleys and curves of southern Wisconsin, followed by a bike raffle, Bikini & Bike Calendar Competition, door prizes, music, food, and refreshments. At noon on Saturday, the Thunder Run rumbles out of Capital City Harley-Davidson for a group ride to Columbus. At 4 p.m., events at the Capital City dealership resume with a bike show, tattoo contest, silent auction, and drawing for a 2012 Harley-Davidson Street Glide motorcycle, plus music, vendors, food, and refreshments.

On-site registration for the Thunder Run is $25 for both days ($10 for kids ages 16–18, $5 for ages 12–15, and children under 12 are admitted free). Fees include a Thunder Run T-shirt, a 2012 commemorative pin, participation in the ride, and access to all events. A single-day admission fee of $10 gains participants entry to Friday's events only (3 p.m. to close), or the after-ride festivities on Saturday (3 p.m. to close). Single-day admission does not include T-shirt, pin, or participation in the ride. Raffle tickets are $10 each and give participants a chance to win their choice of a 2012 Harley-Davidson Street Glide motorcycle valued at more than $21,000, or $10,000 cash. Only 5,000 tickets are available for purchase at Capital City Harley-Davidson or in Columbus at the Thunder Run.

Bikes of all makes and models are welcome, and participation in Friday and Saturday's on-site activities is open to everyone (no motorcycle required). Thunder Run participants urge the community to come out and wave them on to victory against diabetes, a disease that affects more than 25 million Americans.

WPS has sponsored the Thunder Run annually since 2003, providing financial support for the cause as well as employee volunteers to work the event. An active supporter of local community organizations, WPS has also teamed up with United Way, The Salvation Army, Komen Madison Race for the Cure, VSA of Wisconsin, and many others.


WPS Health Insurance Sponsors the 15th Annual VSA Wisconsin Golf Exhibition Featuring Steve Stricker

6/15/2012

Fundraiser supports efforts to enrich the lives of people with disabilities through participation in the arts

WPS Health Insurance, Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurer and provider of affordable group and individual health insurance, is sponsoring VSA Wisconsin's 15th Annual Golf Exhibition to be held Monday, June 18 at the Cherokee Country Club in Madison. The event features Steve Stricker, top-ranked professional golfer and Madison resident, and supports VSA Wisconsin's mission to make a positive impact on the lives of children and adults with disabilities through participation in the arts. A nine-hole golf exhibition at 9 a.m. will be followed immediately by a luncheon (approximately 11:30) featuring VSA Wisconsin participants, a silent and live auction of sports memorabilia and other special items, plus a Q&A session with Stricker.

All of the proceeds from this event go to the VSA Art Center in Madison. Established in 1997, the VSA Art Center provides individual and group classes for children and adults with disabilities. Classes give individuals with disabilities an opportunity to meet new friends, participate in activities outside of home and work, and experience the arts.

Jim Riordan, president and chief executive officer emeritus of WPS, also serves as chair of the board of directors at VSA Wisconsin. "Participation in the arts stimulates the senses and lifts the human spirit," Riordan said. "As proud sponsor of this event, WPS Health Insurance is pleased to support VSA Wisconsin in its mission to celebrate the creative power and artistic accomplishments of children and adults with disabilities."

As an active sponsor of local community organizations, WPS has supported VSA Wisconsin since 1985 and has been a major sponsor of the golf exhibition every year since the event began. WPS offers financial backing to VSA Wisconsin for innovative new programs, professional expertise in the areas of technology, marketing and printing, and volunteer support for many activities, from fairs to fundraisers.

To order tickets for this event, please call 1-608-241-2131 or visit www.vsawis.org/events/stricker_golf_exhibition/event_information/.

About VSA Wisconsin

VSA Wisconsin was incorporated in 1985 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding the capabilities, confidence, and quality of life for children and adults with disabilities by providing programs in dance, drama, creative writing, music, and visual art. VSA Wisconsin is an affiliate of VSA, a program of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. VSA was founded in 1974 by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith to create a society where people with disabilities learn through, participate in, and enjoy the arts. VSA Wisconsin programs, events, and exhibitions reach more than a quarter million people every year. For more information about VSA Wisconsin, visit www.vsawis.org.


"Real Men Go to the Doctor"—WPS Health Insurance Observes Men's Health Month by Encouraging Regular Preventive Care

5/31/2012

Routine checkups are key to avoiding serious health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer

Studies show that the average lifespan for men is about seven years less than women. Men are also more likely to die of chronic disease. Yet according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men are 80 percent less likely than women to use a regular source of health care—which may be a major cause for the disparity. WPS Health Insurance, Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurer and provider of affordable group and individual health insurance, today observes Men's Health Month by encouraging men of all ages to schedule an appointment with their doctors and to visit the WPS Health Center for interactive decision tools, resources, and tips.

Celebrated every year in June, Men's Health Month is a great opportunity to raise men's awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease. It serves as an important reminder because men typically don't go to the doctor as often as they should.

"Many men see the doctor only when they feel sick or have a medical emergency," said Dr. Marvin Wiener, Senior Medical Director at WPS Health Insurance, "and that's not nearly enough. Like a muscle car or motorcycle, men's bodies need regular maintenance. Routine preventive care is and always will be one of the best ways to stay healthy and help avoid serious problems down the road."

And now, annual checkups and other preventive care services are available at essentially no cost to men, women, and children through their health plans. Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurers must pay 100% for all preventive care services ranked A and B by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. So men can no longer use cost as a reason to not see the doctor, as they won't have to pay a penny in copayments, deductibles, or coinsurance for routine exams.

Regular medical checkups are an important tool in the fight to prevent cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes—some of the leading causes of death in men.

"Men can live longer and healthier lives by getting regular checkups and screening exams for cholesterol, blood sugar, prostate disease, and colon cancer," said Dr. Wiener. "It's absolutely vital because some chronic health problems, like heart disease, have few symptoms. For too many men, the first sign of trouble is a serious health emergency or even death."

Men can also benefit from talking with their doctors about healthy lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and drinking, eating a nutritious diet, getting more exercise, and reducing stress.

The WPS Health Center offers a fast and easy way for men (and the women who care about them) to brush up on topics ranging from smoking cessation and weight management to chronic health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and low back pain. For the month of June, our interactive decision tools in the Health Action Center are focused on helping men make wise decisions to improve their health. These tools help men decide which health screenings they need; provide tips for cultivating a healthy, positive outlook; explain how to deal with negative thoughts; and more.

In addition, the WPS Health Center's online health encyclopedia and interactive symptom checker provide the facts men need to understand their symptoms and prepare better questions in time for their next doctor visit.

WPS encourages individuals and families looking for more health insurance tips and strategies to check out the WPS Learning Center for free articles on controlling costs, preventing illness, making wise health decisions, and more timely topics. For questions or to request a quote for a high-quality individual or family health plan from WPS, please call 888-245-4197 to talk with a friendly representative.


What Are Health Insurance Provider Discounts, and How Do They Save Plan Members Money? WPS Health Insurance Explains

5/23/2012

New WPS Learning Center article explores how health insurers negotiate with health care providers to offer members discounted rates

Most people understand that health insurance offers protection from the financial pain of high medical bills by sharing the costs of health care. But there's another, lesser-known way health insurance saves plan members money, and it's called the provider discount. WPS Health Insurance, Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurer and provider of affordable group and individual health insurance, explains provider discounts in a new article, "Health Insurance 101: Provider Discounts—One More Way a Health Plan Saves You Money" now available free online from the WPS Learning Center.

"Provider discounts are price breaks that a health insurer negotiates with health care providers—doctors and hospitals—for their services in exchange for patient volume," said Jim Baird, vice president of individual sales at WPS Health Insurance.

"By themselves, provider discounts are a great reason to buy a health plan," said Baird. "The moment you join a plan, you are eligible to receive discounts on the list price of services. If you don't have health insurance, you don't benefit from those discounts—you pay the full retail price. The savings can be substantial."

This is an important point to remember, particularly for people who are considering purchasing a high-deductible health plan.

"My team talks with people all across Wisconsin who miss the value of high-deductible health plans. 'Where's the savings?' they ask. 'I have to pay $2,000 before the plan starts to share my costs.' The answer is provider discounts. Even if you never meet your deductible, you'll still save big money because you are paying a discounted rate instead of the provider's list price. And that's before you even consider the money you'll save on preventive care—such as annual exams and screenings—which most health plans now pay 100%."

WPS encourages individuals and families looking for more health and insurance-related tips to check out the WPS Learning Center and the WPS Health Center for free articles on controlling costs, preventing illness, making wise health decisions, and other timely topics. For questions or to request a quote for a high-quality individual or family health plan from WPS, please call 888-245-4197 to talk with a friendly representative.


What Are Health Insurance Deductibles? WPS Health Insurance Explains

4/27/2012

New WPS Learning Center article explores how deductibles affect health plan premiums, suggests ways to save money

Deductibles are a common feature of most types of insurance, from car to home to health. But what is a deductible? WPS Health Insurance, Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurer and provider of affordable group and individual health insurance, explains this term in a new article, "Health Insurance 101: What's a Deductible?" now available free online from the WPS Learning Center.

Put simply, a health insurance deductible is the amount that a policyholder must pay toward his or her medical expenses before the insurance company begins to pay its share. "It's usually a calendar-year amount," said Jim Baird, vice president of individual sales at WPS Health Insurance. "So at the start of each year, the deductible resets and the policyholder is once again responsible for paying that amount toward his or her medical expenses."

"Let's say you have a health plan with a $1,000 deductible," said Baird. "After a stay at the hospital, you have a medical bill for $25,000. You would be responsible for paying the first $1,000 toward those expenses. After that, your health plan would begin to pay benefits for the remaining $24,000 according to the terms of your policy."

The full article,"What's a Deductible?", explains deductibles in detail, including how:

  • Many preventive care visits (such as routine exams, well-child visits, screenings, and immunizations) are not subject to deductibles
  • Deductibles differ from copays, another type of cost-sharing with which they are often confused
  • Raising your plan's deductible is usually a good way to lower your premium (the amount you pay, usually each month, to maintain coverage)
  • Family plans often have different types of deductibles–and one type in particular could save you lots of money

The article also includes information about HSA-qualified, high-deductible health plans that give members their very own Health Savings Accounts from which they can pay for qualified medical expenses tax-free.

WPS encourages individuals and families looking for more valuable health and insurance-related tips and strategies to check out the WPS Learning Center and the WPS Health Center for free articles on controlling costs, preventing illness, making wise health decisions, and other timely topics. For questions or to request a quote for a high-quality individual or family health plan from WPS, please call 888-245-4197 to talk with a friendly representative.


WPS Health Insurance Announces Hamerlik to Replace Retiring Riordan as President and CEO

4/9/2012

Former President of Noridian Administrative Services, LLC Brings 22 Years of Insurance Industry Management Experience to WPS

WPS Health Insurance, Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurance company, announced today the appointment of veteran insurance leader Michael Hamerlik as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective June 11, 2012. Hamerlik will replace Jim Riordan, who will be retiring after more than 20 years in that role and 39 years with WPS.

In making the announcement, Riordan said, "We are pleased and excited to welcome Mike to WPS. Mike is an experienced insurance professional with a passion for this industry. He has been heavily involved in strategic direction and diversification over his insurance management career. His experience makes him exceptionally well prepared to help WPS navigate this challenging industry in the years ahead."

Hamerlik comes to WPS with 22 years of experience in the Health Insurance and Medicare fields. In addition, he was a practicing attorney and admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to his 10 years as CEO at Noridian, Mike served as Executive Vice President, Government and Corporate Operations at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota. He started there as Associate General Counsel and held several positions with increasing responsibility during his tenure. Mike is a former member of the North Dakota House of Representatives.

Hamerlik remarked, "WPS is an impressive organization, unique for its diverse array of insurance and financial products and services, and recognized internationally for its commitment to ethical business practices. I am honored to join WPS and I look forward to working with management and the board of directors to build on the company's foundations to deliver exceptional value to our members and the communities WPS serves."

Riordan stated, "I am confident that Mike will be a leader devoted to upholding our long-held corporate priorities and reinforcing our commitment to our members, employees, partners, and communities."


WPS Health Insurance Observes World Health Day with Free Online Resources for Healthy Aging

3/29/2012

Good health is important at any age, but staying healthy is especially key in later years. That's because as people age, their bodies start to wear down, making them more prone to illness and injury, and slowing the body's ability to heal. Today, WPS Health Insurance, Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurer and top provider of Wisconsin Medicare supplement plans, recognizes World Health Day–which this year spotlights healthy aging–with free resources available at the senior health page on the WPS Health Center.

"Growing older is a part of life, and the choices we make today will have a big effect on how healthy we will feel in later years," said Dr. Marvin Wiener, Senior Medical Director at WPS Health Insurance. "Even if we feel young at heart, we need to take good care of our bodies and learn positive ways to deal with stress now, so we can delay or even prevent the physical aches, pains, and problems that often come with age."

WPS' senior health page offers an array of resources to help Wisconsin seniors stay healthy and learn to manage the special health concerns of older adults. Topics include hearing loss, osteoarthritis, memory loss, sexuality and physical changes, and dozens of others. In addition, helpful interactive tools enable visitors to make better choices about exercise, medications, treatments, tests, and more.

"Good health is key to a good life at any age," said Dr. Wiener. "Our goal at WPS is to help Wisconsin residents protect their health and financial security so they can live the happy and healthy lives everyone deserves."

WPS encourages individuals and families looking for more valuable health tips and strategies to check out the WPS Health Center and the WPS Learning Center for free articles on preventing illness, making wise health decisions, and other timely topics. For questions or to request a quote for a high-quality individual or family health plan from WPS, please call 888-245-4197 to talk with a friendly representative.


WPS Health Insurance Named to Ethisphere's 2012 List of "World's Most Ethical Companies" for Third Year in a Row

3/15/2012

Award recognizes exceptional ethical leadership across continents and industries

WPS Health Insurance, Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurance company serving state, federal, and commercial markets, announced today that it has once again been recognized by the Ethisphere® Institute, the leading business ethics think-tank, as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies for 2012.

This is the third year in a row that WPS has been honored for promoting the highest of ethical standards. Out of a record number of nominations, WPS secured a hard-earned spot on the World's Most Ethical (WME) list by implementing and maintaining upright business practices and initiatives that are instrumental to the company's success, benefit the community, and raise the bar for ethical standards within the industry. All told, 145 companies made the list this year, and WPS is the only health insurance company in the world to receive this recognition multiple times.

"WPS Health Insurance is honored to once again be recognized as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies," said Jane Keller-Allen, vice president and corporate compliance officer at WPS. "Every day, our employees work hard to earn the trust, respect, and confidence of everyone we deal with, including our customers, other employees, government officials, competitors, and the communities we serve. It is through their dedication that WPS is able to maintain its strong track record as a responsible company in a challenging industry, economy, and regulatory environment, and I want to thank each and every one of our employees for making WPS a health insurance company that people know they can trust," said Keller-Allen.

This is the sixth year Ethisphere has published the WME rankings. Ethisphere evaluated nominees utilizing its propriety methodology through in-depth research and multi-step analysis, naming the companies that surpassed their industry peers to this year's list. The 2012 list features companies in more than three dozen industries, including 43 companies headquartered outside the United States. Other 2012 WME winners include such well-known companies as Colgate-Palmolive, Ford, Hasbro, Honeywell, Microsoft, Target, and Xerox.

"A strong ethical foundation is a competitive advantage, and WPS Health Insurance recognizes the important role corporate responsibility plays in today's business world," said Alex Brigham, executive director of the Ethisphere Institute. "As more and more organizations strive for this honor each year, the inclusion of WPS Health Insurance as a World's Most Ethical Company for 2012 demonstrates its industry-leading commitment to ethics and dedication to integrity."

The methodology for the WME ranking includes reviewing codes of ethics, litigation and regulatory infraction histories; evaluating the investment in innovation and sustainable business practices; looking at activities designed to improve corporate citizenship; and studying nominations from senior executives, industry peers, suppliers, and customers.

Read about the methodology and view the complete list of the 2012 World's Most Ethical Companies on the official Ethisphere website.


WPS Health Insurance Promotes National Nutrition Month with Online Nutrition Tools

2/29/2012

Good nutrition is a vital part of staying healthy. Poor food choices and eating habits can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and other chronic health conditions. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics established March as National Nutrition Month® to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. To help promote good nutrition, WPS Health Insurance, Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurer and provider of affordable group and individual health insurance, has introduced a healthy eating resource page on the WPS Health Center.

"No matter what size you are or what you weigh, when you eat healthy foods, your body will reward you with better health," said Dr. Marvin Wiener, Senior Medical Director at WPS Health Insurance. "Weight loss is not the only thing you can gain by eating right. Eating healthy lowers your risk for health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and cancer," said Dr. Wiener.

The healthy eating resource page serves up a variety of information about chronic disease prevention, balanced nutrition, informed eating choices, and more including helpful interactive tools. Each topic is written to motivate and engage people to make better health decisions about what they eat.

WPS encourages individuals and families looking for more health tips and strategies to check out the WPS Health Center and the WPS Learning Center for free articles on preventing illness, making wise health decisions, health insurance guidance, and other timely topics. For questions or to request a quote for a high-quality individual or family health plan from WPS, please call 888-245-4197 to talk with a friendly representative.


WPS Health Insurance Offers Free Guide, "Top Tips for Buying Individual Health Insurance"

2/15/2012

20-Page Guide Presents 12 Practical Tips to Help Individuals and Families Choose the Right Health Plan for Them

The right health plan helps people stay healthy and protects their hard-earned savings in the event of a serious injury or illness. The wrong health plan can leave people open to thousands of dollars in unexpected medical costs. That's why the individual health plan experts at WPS, Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurer and provider of affordable group and individual health insurance, have teamed up to bring individuals and families a free guide packed with 12 of the industry's top tips for choosing a health plan that fits their coverage needs and budget.

"Everyone needs a good health plan," said Jim Baird, vice president of individual sales at WPS Health Insurance. "But choosing the right plan can be difficult. Whether you are self-employed, a small-business employee without group coverage, an early retiree, or between jobs, "Top Tips for Buying Individual Health Insurance" contains valuable tips to help you understand your options and get the most from your health plan."

This free 20-page guide provides helpful information about:

  • How today's high-deductible plans offer not just savings, but real value
  • Why the most inexpensive plan often isn't the most affordable plan
  • The difference between embedded and non-embedded deductibles - and why one can save thousands of dollars each year
  • Why purchasing separate policies for individual family members can help some families save significantly
  • The benefits of a little-known but fast-growing type of health plan that can lower premiums, save money, and help pay for future medical expenses, tax-free

Plus, readers will find answers to commonly asked health insurance questions, definitions of common terms, personal stories from WPS plan consultants, and more.

WPS encourages individuals and families looking for more health insurance tips and strategies to check out the WPS Learning Center for free articles on controlling costs, preventing illness, making wise health decisions, and other timely topics. For questions or to request a quote for a high-quality individual or family plan from WPS, please call 1-866-297-4977 to talk with a friendly representative.


Preventive Care Services Covered at 100% Under Health Care Reform? WPS Health Insurance Explains

1/30/2012

The Affordable Care Act of 2010 brings sweeping changes to health insurance coverage in the United States, including the requirement that new health plans–both group and individual–pay 100% of the costs of certain preventive care services such as mammograms, colonoscopies, blood pressure checks, and childhood immunizations. WPS Health Insurance, Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurer and provider of affordable group and individual health insurance, examines this new requirement and details the specific covered services for adults, women, and children in a new educational article, "Stay Healthy, Save Money with Preventive Services Covered at 100% Under Health Care Reform," available for free from the WPS online Learning Center.

"Getting regular preventive care is the single most important thing Wisconsin residents can do to protect their health," said Dr. Marvin Wiener, Senior Medical Director at WPS Health Insurance. "Yet today, only about half of all Americans get the preventive care they need. That's unfortunate when you consider that chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes are responsible for 7 of 10 deaths among Americans each year–and they are often preventable."

Under the Affordable Care Act, all group and individual health plans that take effect on or after September 23, 2010 are required to cover recommended preventive care services without charging a copayment, deductible, or coinsurance, so long as the services are received from an in-network health care provider.

"Doctors and health care facilities continue to charge for these services. But now it's the health insurance companies that pay the costs," said Dr. Wiener. "Essentially, preventive care becomes "free" for the policyholder, greatly increasing the incentive to take advantage of these services."

Depending on the policyholder's age, covered preventive care services may include:

  • Blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol tests
  • Many types of cancer screenings, including mammograms and colonoscopies
  • Routine vaccinations against diseases such as measles, polio, influenza (flu), and meningitis
  • Counseling, screening, and vaccines to ensure healthy pregnancies
  • Regular well–baby and well–child visits from birth to age 21

The full article includes a complete list of preventive care services covered for adults, women, and children, as well as additional details about the new rules.

WPS encourages individuals and families looking for more health insurance tips and strategies to check out the WPS Learning Center for free articles on controlling costs, preventing illness, making wise health decisions, and other timely topics. For questions or to request a quote for a high–quality individual or family plan from WPS, please call 888-245-4197 to talk with a friendly representative.


Is COBRA the Best Option for People Between Jobs? WPS Health Insurance Helps Wisconsin Residents Decide

1/16/2012

Most Wisconsin residents receive health insurance coverage through their employers' group health plans. But what happens to people who find themselves suddenly unemployed? What options do people have if they decide to change jobs or go into business for themselves? At times like these, it is important for people to understand the facts about their options–including the possibility of continuing coverage under a former employer's group plan through COBRA. WPS Health Insurance, Wisconsin's leading not–for–profit health insurer and provider of affordable group and individual health insurance, examines the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 (COBRA) and weighs its pros and cons in a new educational article titled, "Health Insurance 101: Is COBRA the Best Option for People Between Jobs?"

Available for free on the WPS website, the article, Is COBRA the Best Option for People Between Jobs?, discusses important elements of COBRA, including its eligibility requirements, and helps Wisconsin residents decide whether or not this path is the right one for them.

"Every year, thousands of newly unemployed Wisconsin residents ask the question: "Should I enroll in COBRA or shouldn't I?" " said Jim Baird, vice president of individual sales at WPS Health Insurance. "It's a big decision, and the answer depends on each individual. That's why it's essential for people to know the facts about their health insurance options–so they can effectively decide what's best for themselves and their families."

One of the most important concerns for individuals and families when considering COBRA is cost. While COBRA grants former employees and qualified dependents access to all of the same health benefits they enjoyed on the employer's health plan, the employer no longer pays anything toward the coverage. Instead, individuals are responsible for paying the full group premium plus an administrative fee of up to 2%. In addition, they still must pay any coinsurance, deductibles, and copayments that the plan normally requires.

The article also suggests situations in which COBRA may be a good choice–for example, if the person has a pre–existing medical condition or has certain medical needs and when it may be better to consider an individual health plan purchased from a private insurance company.

WPS encourages individuals and families looking for more health insurance tips and strategies to check out the WPS Learning Center for free articles on controlling costs, preventing illness, making wise health decisions, and other timely topics. For questions or to request a quote for a high–quality individual or family plan from WPS, please call 888-245-4197 to talk with a friendly representative.