WPS News



Zachary Rhyner saluted for Operation Fan Mail

12/22/2013

The Green Bay Packers and WPS Health Insurance paid special tribute to U.S. Air Force Tech Sergeant Zachary Rhyner, of Medford, Wis., during Sunday’s Packers-Steelers game for Operation Fan Mail.

Rhyner is a combat controller in the Air Force and is responsible for coordinating air strikes and other air-to-ground assets for special operations forces teams. He is stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, and has been deployed six times, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a humanitarian assistance operation in Haiti.

In addition to two Purple Heart awards and a Bronze Star, Rhyner received the Air Force Cross for his actions in the Battle of Shok Valley during the War in Afghanistan. He was the first living, and second ever, combat controller to receive the Air Force Cross, which is second only to the Medal of Honor for heroism in combat. He was injured in his most recent deployment, suffering nerve damage and shattering his hip, and is currently recovering.

Rhyner attended the game with his mother, Sue, his father, Paul, and his brother, Luke.

Operation Fan Mail, which debuted in 2007, is designed to recognize families with a member who is on active duty. The Packers and WPS Health Insurance will host a family at each 2013 home game and recognize them on the field during pregame activities. A total of 64 families have been recognized through the program.

To choose families, the Packers and WPS Health Insurance are asking interested families, or friends of eligible families, to submit an essay, 500 words or less, on why a particular fan should be saluted. Essays can be sent to: Operation Fan Mail, P.O. Box 10628, Green Bay, WI 54307-0628. Essays also can be submitted to the Packers online at http://nfl.packers.com/gameday/gameday_promotions/operation_fan_mail.

Families intended for recognition are those that have a member serving on active duty. The family member can be a spouse, mother, father, son, daughter or sibling.

In addition to being recognized on-field prior to the game, selected families receive four tickets to the game and a care package from WPS.


WPS Alternative Choice plan gives Wisconsin residents more options

12/19/2013

New health insurance plan offers coverage ranging from 30 to 364 days

WPS is launching a new short-term health insurance plan called WPS Alternative Choice, which is tailored for individuals and families in transition or those waiting to see how health care reform works out. Coverage is available starting Jan. 1.

This policy, which has been approved by the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, may not satisfy the individual mandate requirement under the health reform law. However, it does offer comprehensive medical and hospital benefits to provide a low-cost alternative for interim insurance.

The plan is designed for people who are:

  • Looking for an alternative to health care reform plans.
  • Recent college graduates.
  • Part-time or temporary employees.
  • Between jobs and looking for an affordable alternative to COBRA.
  • Newly employed and waiting for health benefits to begin.
  • Recently retired and waiting for Medicare eligibility.

“Alternative Choice is a great, lower-cost plan for people with short-term gaps in coverage or those who want to take additional time to assess their options under the health care reform law,” said Jim Baird, vice president of individual sales.

WPS Alternative Choice offers coverage period options of 30 to 364 days, or two back-to-back six-month policies. (Members choosing back-to-back policies will avoid additional underwriting, and the pre-existing condition exclusion on the second six-month policy will not include any newly diagnosed conditions, symptoms, or treatment incurred during the first six-month policy. Back-to-back six-month policies must have a Jan. 1 effective date.)

WPS Alternative Choice replaces the WPS Instant Protection Plan and is only available for Wisconsin residents.


Nicholas Popowski saluted Sunday for Operation Fan Mail

12/9/2013

The Green Bay Packers and WPS Health Insurance paid special tribute to U.S. Navy Boatswain Mate Nicholas Popowski of Columbus, Wis. during Sunday's Packers-Falcons game for Operation Fan Mail.

Popowski, a lifelong Packers fan, has been serving in the Navy for 12 years as a boatswain mate (BM2), which is the oldest job in the Navy. As a BM2, Popowski mans the lookouts, responds to man overboard alarms, resupplies the ship with food, refuels and performs any other necessary tasks, including training new sailors assigned to the ship.

Popowski has been assigned to the USS McFaul (destroyer), NCHB -1 Navy cargo handling battalion, USS Enterprise (aircraft carrier) and the USS Carl Vinson (aircraft carrier) throughout his career, and has traveled to every continent in the world. When Popowski was attached to the NCHB-1, he traveled to Antarctica for Operation Deep Freeze as well as traveling on humanitarian trips to Senegal and Thailand. He also served eight months in Iraq with the battalion.

Operation Fan Mail, which debuted in 2007, is designed to recognize families with a member who is on active duty. The Packers and WPS Health Insurance will host a family at each 2013 home game and recognize them on the field during pregame activities. A total of 63 families have been recognized through the program.

To choose families, the Packers and WPS Health Insurance are asking interested families, or friends of eligible families, to submit an essay, 500 words or less, on why a particular fan should be saluted. Essays can be sent to: Operation Fan Mail, P.O. Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628. Essays also can be submitted to the Packers online at http://nfl.packers.com/gameday/gameday_promotions/operation_fan_mail/.

Families intended for recognition are those that have a member serving on active duty. The family member can be a spouse, mother, father, son, daughter or sibling.

In addition to being recognized on-field prior to the game, selected families receive four tickets to the game and a care package from WPS.


Christopher Cassidy saluted Sunday for Operation Fan Mail

11/25/2013

The Green Bay Packers and WPS Health Insurance paid special tribute to Navy SEAL and NASA Astronaut Christopher Cassidy of York, Maine, during Sunday’s Packers-Vikings game for 'Operation Fan Mail.'

Cassidy, an avid Packers fan, attended York High School in Maine and Naval Academy Prep School in Rhode Island. From there, he received his Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1993, and his M.S. in ocean engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2000.

His experience includes 10 years as a member of the U.S. Navy SEAL Teams, with specialized tactics including long-range special reconnaissance (vehicular and foot patrols); direct action building assaults; noncompliant ship-boardings; desert reconnaissance patrols; combat diving; underwater explosives; and a variety of air operations, including parachuting, fast roping, and rappelling.

Cassidy made four six-month deployments: two to Afghanistan, and two to the Mediterranean. He served as executive officer and operations, officer of Special Boat Team Twenty in Norfolk, Va., and SEAL Platoon Commander at SEAL Team THREE in Coronado, Calif. He deployed to the Afghanistan region two weeks after the Sept. 11 tragedy, and served as ground assault force commander for international and U.S.-only combat missions in Afghanistan, and led two months of noncompliant ship-boardings in the Northern Arabian Gulf.

Cassidy was selected by NASA in May 2004. In February 2006, he completed Astronaut Candidate Training, which included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in shuttle and International Space Station systems, physiological training, T-38 flight training, and water and wilderness survival training. Completion of the initial training qualified him for various technical assignments within the Astronaut Office and future flight assignment as a mission specialist. From 2006 to 2008, he served as Capsule Commander (CAPCOM) in Mission Control. During his NASA career, Cassidy completed six spacewalks, totaling 31 hours, 14 minutes and accumulated 182 days in space.

He has been awarded the Bronze Star with combat 'V' and Presidential Unit Citation for leading a nine-day operation at the Zharwar Kili cave complex – a national priority objective directly on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. Cassidy received a second Bronze Star for combat leadership service in Afghanistan in 2004. He is also a recipient of the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal.

He and his wife, Julie, are the proud parents of three children.

Operation Fan Mail, which debuted in 2007, is designed to recognize families with a member who is on active duty. The Packers and WPS Health Insurance will host a family at each 2013 home game and recognize them on the field during pregame activities. A total of 62 families have been recognized with through the program.

To choose families, the Packers and WPS Health Insurance are asking interested families, or friends of eligible families, to submit an essay, 500 words or less, on why a particular fan should be saluted. Essays can be sent to: Operation Fan Mail, P.O. Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628. Essays also can be submitted to the Packers online at http://nfl.packers.com/gameday/gameday_promotions/operation_fan_mail/.

Families intended for recognition are those that have a member serving on active duty. The family member can be a spouse, mother, father, son, daughter or sibling.

In addition to being recognized on-field prior to the game, selected families receive four tickets to the game and a care package from WPS.


James Lenzendorf Saluted Sunday for Operation Fan Mail

11/11/2013

The Green Bay Packers and WPS Health Insurance paid special tribute to Wisconsin Air National Guard Lt. Col. James Lenzendorf, of Prairie du Chien, Wis., during Sunday’s Packers-Eagles game for ‘Operation Fan Mail.’

Currently, Lenzendorf serves as the director of operations for the Air Command Alert squadron of the 115th Fighter Wing, as part of the Homeland Defense Mission. He works 24-hour shifts in addition to his multiple flying duties to protect the air from any threats.

Throughout his career, Lenzendorf has been deployed multiple times to Iraq and Saudi Arabia, where he has flown combat missions in support of Operation Southern Watch, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Lenzendorf will retire in 2016.

Lenzendorf attended the game with his wife, Leah, and his two sons, Jared and Garett.

Operation Fan Mail, which debuted in 2007, is designed to recognize families with a member who is on active duty. The Packers and WPS Health Insurance will host a family at each 2013 home game and recognize them on the field during pregame activities. A total of 61 families have been recognized with through the program.

To choose families, the Packers and WPS Health Insurance are asking interested families, or friends of eligible families, to submit an essay, 500 words or less, on why a particular fan should be saluted. Essays can be sent to: Operation Fan Mail, P.O. Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628. Essays also can be submitted to the Packers online at http://nfl.packers.com/gameday/gameday_promotions/operation_fan_mail/

Families intended for recognition are those that have a member serving on active duty. The family member can be a spouse, mother, father, son, daughter or sibling.

In addition to being recognized on-field prior to the game, selected families receive four tickets to the game and a care package from WPS.


Arise Health Plan, WPS offer health care reform seminars

11/07/2013

Arise Health Plan and WPS are hosting 16 free seminars in Wisconsin to inform residents about health care reform and help them determine whether they qualify for an insurance subsidy from the government.

The 90-minute seminars – titled “Health Care Reform and the Impact to Consumers” – will take place in seven communities between Nov. 12 and Dec. 12. Seating is limited at each location, and advance registration is necessary.

“Our goal is for the seminars to provide consumers with the information they need most to make the right decisions about their health insurance coverage,” said Jim Baird, WPS vice president of Individual Sales. “Many people don't fully understand the important issues that can impact them directly, such as whether they will be eligible for financial help to pay premiums, what the penalties are for going without insurance, and what their range of options is. We can help them with answers that are specific to their situation.”

The program will include information on:

  • Key points about health care reform and the Affordable Care Act.
  • Who must purchase health insurance.
  • What must be covered.
  • Various benefit levels.
  • Who qualifies for a cost-sharing subsidy.
  • The penalty for not purchasing health coverage.
  • Options offered by WPS and Arise Health Plan, which is a subsidiary of WPS.
To register, call 800-236-1448, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

Each seminar will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Here is the schedule:

  • Nov. 12 – Westwood Conference Center, 1800 Westwood Center Blvd., Wausau.
  • Nov. 13 – Marriott, 7111 W. Washington Ave., Racine.
  • Nov. 14 – Hotel Mead, 451 E. Grand Ave., Wisconsin Rapids.
  • Nov. 18 – Radisson Hotel & Conference Center, 2040 Airport Drive, Green Bay.
  • Nov. 19 – AmericInn, 3300 E. Main St., Merrill.
  • Nov. 20 – Country Inn & Suites, 7011 122nd Ave., Kenosha.
  • Nov. 20 – Westwood Conference Center, 1800 Westwood Center Blvd., Wausau.
  • Nov. 21 – Holiday Inn Express, 2407 Neva Road, Hwy. 45, Antigo.
  • Dec. 4 – Westwood Conference Center, 1800 Westwood Center Blvd., Wausau.
  • Dec. 5 – Hotel Mead, 451 E. Grand Ave., Wisconsin Rapids.
  • Dec. 6 – Radisson Hotel & Conference Center, 2040 Airport Drive, Green Bay.
  • Dec. 9 – AmericInn, 3300 E. Main St, Merrill.
  • Dec. 10 – Marriott, 7111 W. Washington Ave., Racine.
  • Dec. 11 – Holiday Inn Express, 2407 Neva Road, Hwy. 45, Antigo.
  • Dec. 12 – Country Inn & Suites, 7011 122nd Ave., Kenosha.
  • Dec. 12 – Aspirus Wausau Hospital, 333 Pine Ridge Road, Wausau.

  • WPS emphasizes community involvement by supporting health-related and military causes

    10/3/2013

    Corporate Giving Guidelines tell how funding and sponsorship requests are evaluated

    At WPS, doing what’s right means helping Wisconsin residents protect what we all value: our health, financial security, and peace of mind.

    WPS is committed to taking an active role in promoting the health and well-being of the communities our customers and employees call home. Through sponsorships, cash donations, in-kind donations and volunteerism, WPS – and its wholly owned subsidiaries of Arise Health Plan, EPIC Life Insurance and WPS Community Bank – supports initiatives focused on enhancing the health of the communities we serve across Wisconsin. Our key areas of focus for corporate giving include health issues, specifically women’s and children’s health in Wisconsin, and support of our military and veterans.

    WPS recently updated its < a href="http://www.wpshealthsolutions.com/about/community-support/cs-guidlines-submission.shtml" target="_blank">Corporate Giving Guidelines (available on the WPS website), with details on how the company evaluates funding and sponsorship requests. Submission timelines, other requirements, and an application form also are included.

    Responsibility for managing the WPS corporate giving program rests with Jeanne Wittig, director of community relations.

    With a background in marketing and a lifelong devotion to Green Bay, Wittig manages corporate relationships with local nonprofit organizations across Wisconsin. She evaluates more than 30 solicitations per month for community giving and sponsorships.

    Wittig works with Ellen Foley, vice president of corporate communications, and Tami Gilbertson, director of corporate events, who have deep relationships in the south central and southeastern regions.

    “Jeanne’s insights into many locations where we work have helped us expand our giving across many regions of Wisconsin and our other states,” Foley said.

    Wittig also works with Christine Russell, vice president of government relations, to leverage the WPS public affairs investment across business and government relations channels.

    Community relations enhances WPS’ image by developing and promoting programs that demonstrate the company’s commitment to its corporate citizenship mission, while engaging employees in meaningful volunteer service.

    A native of Green Bay, Wittig has an undergraduate degree in marketing with a minor in fine art design, and an MBA in health care management. She has 20 years of health care marketing experience. She works out of the De Pere office and can be reached at (920) 617-6318 or Jeanne.Wittig@wpsic.com.


    Frequently Asked Questions about the new Marketplace

    10/2/2013

    Affordable Care Act begins a new chapter

    What is the Health Insurance Marketplace?

    The Marketplace is a new way to find health insurance as part of the Affordable Care Act. It’s designed for people who are uninsured or for those who currently buy individual policies. Private insurance plans still will be available without going through the Marketplace.

    How does the Marketplace work?

    The Marketplace plans are based on where you live, your family size, the type of plan you select, your age and whether you smoke. You’ll be able to compare plans based on price, benefits, and other features. Plans are presented in four categories – bronze, silver, gold, and platinum – to make comparing them easier.

    What are the key dates?

    Open enrollment starts October 1, 2013, for coverage that begins as soon as January 1, 2014. Open enrollment ends March 31, 2014.

    How do I apply?

    If you live in Wisconsin, go to HealthCare.gov to apply for coverage, compare plans, and enroll.

    Is there financial assistance through the Marketplace?

    Some people will qualify for subsidies, or tax credits, to help pay the premiums. There also are cost-sharing subsidies to reduce deductibles and copayments. It all depends on your income.

    What if I already have health insurance?

    If you have insurance through your employer, Medicare or Medicaid, it’s likely you won’t need to shop for coverage on the new Marketplace.

    Is WPS on the Marketplace?

    WPS leaders took a controlled approach with a regional Marketplace offering through Arise Health Plan, a wholly owned subsidiary of WPS. Arise will offer both on- and off-Marketplace individual and small group plans. WPS won’t be on the Marketplace for 2014, but it still will offer individual and small group plans, and a short-term plan.

    Where is Arise Health Plan offered?

    Arise is a new arrival to Milwaukee County and southeastern Wisconsin, where it will provide a fresh option for customers shopping on the Marketplace. Besides Milwaukee County, Arise also will provide Marketplace insurance in these other counties: Brown, Calumet, Dodge, Door, Fond du Lac, Kenosha, Kewaunee, Langlade, Lincoln, Manitowoc, Marathon, Marinette, Oconto, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Racine, Shawano, Sheboygan, Taylor, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha, Waupaca, Winnebago, and Wood.


    Arise Health Plan will serve 26 counties through the Health Insurance Marketplace

    9/19/2013

    Enrollment in the Marketplace begins Oct. 1

    Arise Health Plan will be offering insurance plans in 26 Wisconsin counties when Wisconsin’s Health Insurance Marketplace begins accepting applications Oct. 1.

    On Sept. 19, the Wisconsin Office of Commissioner of Insurance issued a list of the final service areas for insurers participating in the Marketplace. The information wasn’t available until the insurer contracts were finalized with the federal government.

    Green Bay-based Arise Health Plan, which is legally known as WPS Health Plan, Inc., will offer Marketplace plans in both the individual and small employer group markets.

    Arise is a new arrival to Milwaukee County and southeastern Wisconsin, where it will provide a new option to customers shopping on the Marketplace.

    Arise also will provide Marketplace insurance in these other counties: Brown, Calumet, Dodge, Door, Fond du Lac, Kenosha, Kewaunee, Langlade, Lincoln, Manitowoc, Marathon, Marinette, Oconto, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Racine, Shawano, Sheboygan, Taylor, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha, Waupaca, Winnebago, and Wood.

    Key provisions of the Affordable Care Act become effective Jan. 1, 2014.

    Arise is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wisconsin Physicians Service Insurance Corporation in Madison. WPS Health Insurance is not participating in the Marketplace in 2014.


    WPS hires chief medical officer

    9/11/2013

    Dr. Phil Colmenares joins WPS’ senior staff on Oct. 14

    WPS, Wisconsin’s leading not-for-profit health insurer and top provider of affordable individual health plans, has added Dr. Phil Colmenares, M.D., M.P.H., to its senior staff. The new chief medical officer begins his duties on Oct. 14.

    “We’re very happy to have Dr. Colmenares on board,” said Scott Kowalski, executive vice president of health insurance. “His experience in evidence-based medicine will help keep WPS on a disciplined path.”

    Dr. Colmenares is originally from Reading, Penn. He received his BA from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Penn., his medical degree from Temple University in Philadelphia, and his masters in Health Policy and Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, N.C. He is also a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

    A U.S. Navy veteran, Dr. Colmenares completed his residency at the Portsmouth Naval Medical Center before becoming the chief medical and radiation health officer on board the USS California. His military medical career also took him to Rota, Spain, and Sigonella, Italy.

    When he returned to the U.S., he came to Madison and worked in increasing capacities for Dean Clinic before making the switch to health plans. He has worked in the health plan arena for seven years, most recently as the senior medical director for Security Health Plan in Marshfield, WI. He improved processes and worked with regulatory, medical, and other health care organizations on local, regional, and national levels. Dr. Colmenares worked to reduce the per capita costs of health care and helped define care coordination, such as the management of diseases, cases, pharmaceuticals, and medical procedures.

    “Dr. Colmenares is a great addition to our team,” said Dan Edge, vice president of medical affairs and operations. “I look forward to working with him to make WPS even more valuable to our members.”


    WPS TRICARE wins three new subcontracts

    09/6/2013

    Five-year subcontracts continue partnership with TriWest Healthcare Alliance

    WPS, Wisconsin’s leading not-for-profit health insurer and top provider of affordable individual health plans, was awarded three new subcontracts on September 4 to administer benefits for nearly half the eligible veterans in America.

    As a result of these new subcontracts, a small number of new employees will be hired in WPS’ Wausau office to help with the administrative work.

    “This is great news for WPS,” said Brian Brugger, executive vice president of the WPS TRICARE Division. “Our renewed and reinvigorated focus on contracts and business growth is driving this great success.” The subcontracts are for TriWest Healthcare Alliance’s Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) contracts for the VA Patient-Centered Community Care (VAPC3) program’s Regions 3, 5, and 6. These regions cover all or portions of 28 states, including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia, as well as American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

    Mike Hamerlik, WPS president and CEO, said, “It is a privilege and an honor to take on this work to help care for our veterans. Our relationship with TriWest is important for our company and valued very much. They are a great partner and I look forward to more collaboration in the future.”


    Gilbertson inducted into Hall of Fame

    9/6/2013

    WPS director of events and promotions honored by Wisconsin chapter of Meeting Professionals International

    Tami Gilbertson, director of events and promotions at WPS, has been inducted into the Hall of Fame for the Wisconsin chapter of Meeting Professionals International.

    The ceremony took place Thursday, Sept. 5, at the Wisconsin chapter’s awards gala at the Madison Marriott West in Middleton.

    The Hall of Fame award is given to a member who has had significant impact on the chapter, industry, and community. The recipient is chosen by the board of directors based on involvement in chapter meetings and activities; service on committees and the board; and contributions to the advancement of the meeting industry. Gilbertson is the 17th recipient in the 36-year history of the chapter.

    Gilbertson was chapter president, 2009-2010. She received the President's Award in 2008, was named Meeting Advocate of the Year in 2011, and Planner of the Year in 2010.

    Gilbertson started at WPS in December 1990 and created the WPS event planner career path. She was the first meeting-centric manager, now director, with a focused event specialist staff.

    Currently at WPS, Gilbertson plans meetings and corporate events, helps with speaking engagements for executives, and serves as an advisor to Ellen Foley, vice president of communications.

    Gilbertson earned the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation in 2005 from the Convention Industry Council.

    She also served as editor of Wisconsin Meetings magazine from 2010-2012.

    MPI is the meeting and event industry’s largest professional organization. There are more than 23,000 members belonging to 71 chapters and clubs worldwide.

    The Wisconsin chapter, established in 1977, has more than 320 members. The chapter brings professionals together to learn best practices, build relationships, and create business opportunities that enhance the strategic value of meetings.


    Experts from Arise Health Plan to present at Affordable Care Act forum

    9/5/2013

    Arise is exclusive health insurance sponsor of Milwaukee event

    Arise Health Plan and other leaders in the health insurance industry will explain the nuances of health care reform Sept. 13 at an event tailored for executives of large and small businesses in Milwaukee.

    Arise, with offices in Milwaukee, De Pere, Madison and Wausau, is reaching out to business leaders who may be confused about the evolving provisions of the Affordable Care Act Marketplace, also called the Exchange, which opens Oct. 1.

    “Arise has partnered with and advised large and small businesses for many years,” said Scott Kowalski, executive vice president of health insurance at WPS and chief operating officer of Arise Health Plan. “We want these valued customers to know that our health care reform experts are available for on-Exchange and off-Exchange solutions to their insurance needs.”

    Other sponsors of the “Understanding Health Care Reform” forum, which starts at 7:30 a.m. at the Milwaukee Marriott Downtown, are Johnson Insurance and Schenck CPAs.

    Representing Arise on the main panel will be Jeff Marquardt, vice president of regional sales. Marquardt also will be among the presenters for the large employer breakout session. Sean Van Ess, manager of marketing and product development for Arise, will help lead the small employer session.

    Marquardt leads the Arise sales team as its top executive with more than 20 years of experience in sales, sales management, product development and provider relations. His knowledge of Wisconsin and business leaders’ concerns in health care issues has been honed through his work building distribution networks throughout southeastern Wisconsin.

    Van Ess will share insights from his experience as Arise’s Exchange product manager for the past year. As Arise’s filing expert for the Exchange, he knows the nuances and pitfalls of enrolling for the Exchange plans.

    Arise, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of WPS, is a qualified health plan in the individual market and in the small employer group market, and is approved to participate in the Exchange.

    Key provisions of the ACA become effective Jan. 1, 2014, including the federal Exchange. Enrollment for the Exchange begins Oct. 1.

    For more on the forum, go to biztimes.com/hcreform.


    WPS Slated to Save $3.9 Million in Innovative Energy Practices by 2020

    8/28/2013

    Making Buildings More Energy Efficient Will Reduce Costs, Improve Comfort.

    WPS, Wisconsin’s leading not-for-profit health insurer and top provider of affordable individual health plans, is updating its buildings to improve energy efficiency and has set an energy target goal for 2020 of an ENERGY STAR® rating of 95, at today’s ratings. The project started several years ago and is already paying off. Company officials expect cumulative savings of about $3.9 million by 2020.

    Since 2007, WPS facilities personnel have been upgrading lighting and retro-commissioning buildings, which has saved WPS thousands of dollars, according to Mark Jensen, vice president of business and office services.

    “Older building lighting systems were not designed for the intense use of PC monitors and the glare problems that often result,” Jensen said. “Upgraded lighting systems take this into account and the result not only saves energy, but is more appropriate for today’s office environment.”

    Other major upgrades, he said, focus on the heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems to improve heating and cooling scheduling, temperature setback, and the efficiency of fan and pump motors.

    “Modern direct digital controls allow us to operate equipment only when necessary,” Jensen said. “We’ll be doing a lot of utility monitoring and automatic demand limiting in all of our buildings to make sure our systems are running properly and at appropriate times. Our goal is to create comfortable spaces while also being energy efficient.”

    An in-depth utility rate analysis conducted by H&H Energy Services, Inc. shows a cumulative savings between 2007 and 2012 of $717,500. Each building was also given an ENERGY STAR rating.

    Currently, three of the office buildings on the company’s main Madison campus would qualify for ENERGY STAR certification. The ENERGY STAR rating examines the most recent 12 months of utility costs for a building and compares the building performance against that of other buildings. Because buildings in general become more efficient each year, the rating is continually adjusted.

    The utility rate analysis shows that if the three buildings on the WPS campus can achieve an ENERGY STAR rating of 95 (at today’s rating) in 2020, it would mean a projected savings that year of $553,000 and a cumulative savings during the years up to and including 2020 of about $3.9 million. A rating of 95 means the building is performing in the top 5% of buildings nationally. Because the ratings adjust each year, the actual rating in 2020 may be closer to 90.


    WPS Hires Strategy & Business Development Executive

    8/26/2013

    John Stephens will have key role in implementing strategic plan.

    John Stephens has joined WPS as senior vice president for strategy and business development.

    He had served as a consultant to WPS when its strategic plan was being developed. Now, as a WPS executive, Stephens will have a key role in implementing the strategic plan and developing additional business opportunities.

    “John has more than 15 years of experience in strategic planning, problem-solving and implementing strategies to improve business performance,” said President and CEO Mike Hamerlik. “He impressed us with his skill and style when he worked with us during our strategic planning effort.”

    A native of Des Moines, Iowa, Stephens has broad experience in the insurance sector and has advised several health plans. He most recently co-led the health care and insurance practice at Bridge Strategy Group of Chicago, where he worked for 11 years. He has a degree in economics from Northwestern University, and an MBA with concentrations in strategic management and entrepreneurship from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.


    Packers, WPS Health Insurance Present 'Operation Fan Mail' for 2013

    7/26/2013

    WPS Operation Fan Mail Program recognizes military families on Lambeau Field in pregame

    Operation Fan Mail, the program that recognizes military families at each Green Bay Packers home game, will mark its seventh season in 2013, and the fifth year it has been presented by WPS Health Insurance.

    The program, which debuted in 2007, is designed to honor families with a member who is on active duty. The Packers and WPS will host a family at each 2013 home game and recognize them on the field during pregame activities. A total of 55 families have been saluted during the past six seasons.

    “We are honored that we’ve had the privilege of recognizing these military families at Lambeau Field for the last seven years,” said Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy. “These men and women, along with their families, make many sacrifices for our freedom, and we’re happy to salute them with our fans.”

    "We are proud to partner with the Green Bay Packers through sponsorship of the Operation Fan Mail program," said Jeanne Wittig, WPS director of community relations. "We would like to express our gratitude to the men and women who have made great personal sacrifices on behalf of our country. Through Operation Fan Mail, we can honor and support our military families to ensure our commitment to them as they serve abroad, as well as when they return home."

    The Packers and WPS are asking interested families, or friends of eligible families, to submit an essay, 500 words or less, on why a particular family should be saluted. Essays can be sent to: Operation Fan Mail, P.O. Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628. Essays also can be submitted online by clicking here.

    Families intended for recognition are those that have a member serving on active duty. The family member can be a spouse, mother, father, son, daughter or sibling. New this year, Purple Heart recipients are also eligible for recognition, even if they cannot return to active service status.

    In addition to being recognized on-field prior to the game, selected families will receive four tickets to the game and a $150 Packers Pro Shop gift card courtesy of WPS.


    WPS Charitable Foundation issues 10 scholarships for 2013

    6/28/2013

    WPS announces the recipients of the WPS Charitable Foundation scholarships for 2013. The following 10 high school seniors will receive the one-year Ray Koenig Memorial Scholarship, which is named in honor of the first president of WPS.

    • Luke Allmon, son of Patricia Allmon (Medicare-Omaha), graduated from Missouri Valley High School and will be attending the University of Nebraska–Omaha.
    • Jacob Bloechl, son of Sue Hixon (TRICARE-Wausau), graduated from Merrill Senior High School and will be attending the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh.
    • Julia Fry, daughter of Kirk Fry (Sales-Milwaukee), graduated from Martin Luther High School and will be attending the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities.
    • Julia Gilbertson, daughter of Tracey Halsted (Sales-Madison), graduated from Middleton High School and will be attending the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
    • Meghan Hosely, daughter of Cynthia Hosely (TRICARE–Madison), graduated from Sun Prairie High School and will be attending the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire.
    • Nathan Kielpinski, son of Tom Kielpinski (Information Systems–Madison), graduated from Middleton High School and will be attending the University of Colorado–Boulder.
    • Alexander Maller, son of Deborah Maller (Medicare–Clearwater), graduated from Osceola Fundamental High School and will be attending the University of Florida.
    • Colman Mulkern, son of Shirley Norris (TRICARE–Madison), graduated from Madison La Follette High School and will be attending the University of Kansas.
    • Lorayne Schultz, daughter of Robert Schultz (Imaging–Madison), graduated from Mount Horeb High School and will be attending the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater.
    • Troy Showers, son of Sherri Showers (Actuarial-Madison), graduated from Stoughton High School and will be attending the University of Wisconsin–Platteville.

    Forty-five children of employees of WPS and its subsidiaries qualified this year. Characteristics of the applicants include:

    Gender: 28 females; 17 males

    Location:

    • Wisconsin: 28 - Madison; 5 - Wausau; 2 – Milwaukee; 1 – Green Bay/De Pere
    • Illinois: 3 – Marion
    • Nebraska: 3 – Omaha
    • Minnesota: 2 – Bloomington
    • Florida: 1 – Clearwater

    Parent works in: 14 - Medicare; 13 - TRICARE; 7 - Information Systems; 4 - Sales; 2 – Accounting; 2 – WPS Health Insurance Operations; 1 - Actuarial; 1 – Arise Health Plan; 1 – Plan Development


    WPS Health Insurance Appoints a New Member to its Executive Team, Introducing Dan Schwandt

    6/6/2013


    WPS Health Insurance Appoints a New Member to its Executive Team

    5/13/2013

    Former Vice President of Commercial Sales Returns to the Company

    WPS, Wisconsin’s leading not-for-profit health insurer and provider of affordable group and individual health insurance, recently added Scott Kowalski, an insurance-industry veteran, to its executive team, President and CEO Mike Hamerlik announced today. Kowalski joins WPS as its new executive vice president of Health Insurance. He will also oversee the operations of Arise Health Plan, based in Green Bay, WI.

    “It’s so nice to welcome Scott back to our leadership team at WPS. He has a lot of experience and will be vital to our work in this new era of health care reform,” Hamerlik said. “His insights will help the senior leadership team ramp up WPS growth in the near term and create a framework for continued success down the road,” Hamerlik said.

    Kowalski previously worked as WPS Commercial Sales vice president and spent the past few years in the private practice of law, specializing in estate planning. He maintained his license to sell insurance during that time and has in-depth knowledge of the insurance business from the industry perspective and as an advisor to clients on health insurance purchases.

    “Scott’s wide knowledge of the state and his sales skills will help WPS make the most of the talents and experience of our Health Insurance division,” Hamerlik said.


    WPS Health Insurance Announces the Grand Opening of Its On-Site Clinic

    5/6/2013

    WPS health & wellness center event takes place May 20

    WPS Health Insurance, Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurer and top provider of affordable individual health plans, is holding an invitation-only grand opening on May 20 for its new WPS Health & Wellness Center. The event will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony, cooking demonstration, and tours of the new facility.

    "Our new clinic facility will be a convenient resource for our employees and will help promote good health and wellness," Dan Edge, vice president of medical affairs and operations, said. "The staff is highly skilled and ready to start seeing patients as soon as the clinic opens."

    The WPS Health & Wellness Center, which opens to patients on May 6, is the result of a partnership between WPS and QuadMed, a nationwide leader in employer-sponsored health care.

    "We've learned a lot from QuadMed," said Mike Hamerlik, WPS CEO and president, "and I think our new clinic is a model other businesses could follow."

    The clinic will offer employees of WPS and its subsidiaries, along with their families, access to a full spectrum of medical care, including annual physicals and immunizations, preventive screenings, lab work, and wellness services.


    Longtime Arise Executive Mark Minsloff to Retire

    4/18/2013

    Veteran Health Care Expert Led Through Change

    Arise Health Plan, a subsidiary of Wisconsin Physicians Service Insurance Corporation (WPS), announced today that Mark Minsloff, chief operating officer of Arise Health Plan, will retire May 1.

    Minsloff plans to spend more time on community service, including the American Red Cross, and travel with his wife, Vicki. They look forward to summers and falls at their home in Vilas County.

    "My family and I have enjoyed our years in Green Bay and the many lifelong friends we have made here, especially my colleagues at Arise," Minsloff said. "It's time for Vicki and I to visit the many cities we've dreamed about and enjoy more time at the lake."

    WPS CEO and President Mike Hamerlik said the company will miss Minsloff's leadership and experience.

    "We wish Mark the best in his well-deserved retirement," Hamerlik said. "He stayed with us longer than he planned to help our company prepare for the challenges of health care reform and the increasing role that government will play in our health care decisions. His focus and his initiative will be missed."

    Minsloff joined WPS in 2005 as a result of the acquisition of Prevea Health Plan, where he served as president and chief executive officer since 1999.

    Minsloff previously held executive positions at American Medical Security Insurance Co., Employers Health Insurance/Humana and Physicians Plus Insurance Corp.

    He worked earlier in his career as a clinician and hospital executive and earned a master's degree in Health Care Administration.


    WPS Health Insurance Appoints a New Member to its Executive Team

    3/20/2013

    WPS Health Insurance, Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurer and provider of affordable group and individual health insurance, recently added Ellen Foley, a veteran journalist and marketing communications leader, to its executive team, President and CEO Mike Hamerlik announced today. Foley joins WPS as vice president of corporate communications.

    "Ellen will be an integral part of our efforts as we take on the opportunities presented by health care reform," Hamerlik said. "Ellen's deep knowledge of strategic efforts makes her an invaluable asset to the senior leadership team charged with growing WPS in the near term and laying the groundwork for continued success in the long term," Hamerlik said. He added that the company was able to hire after several retirements and efficiencies made at the top administrative levels.

    Foley is a 30-year veteran of daily journalism, the former editor of the Wisconsin State Journal, and was a leader of the $134 million successful referendum at Madison College in 2010. Her expertise as a social media and digital marketing executive are chronicled in the soon-to-be-released book, Social Works.

    Foley worked as the digital communications leader for Rippe Keane Marketing Inc. in 2012 and is president of Foley Media Group.

    At WPS, she will manage day-to-day communications with employees, insurance agents, health care providers, members, and prospective customers.


    WPS Health Insurance Earns a Place on Ethisphere's Exclusive 2013 List of 'World's Most Ethical Companies' for Fourth Year in a Row

    3/6/2013

    Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurer and a large government contractor for the federal Medicare and TRICARE programs, 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 (WME) Companies for 2013.

    This is the fourth year in a row that WPS has been honored for promoting the highest ethical standards. WPS secured a hard-earned spot on the 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. A total of 145 companies made the exclusive list this year, and WPS is the only health insurance company in the world to receive this recognition four times.

    "Even in difficult times, WPS employees don't lose sight of how important high ethical standards are. This makes the recognition of WPS Health Insurance as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies even more meaningful," said Jane Keller-Allen, vice president and corporate compliance officer at WPS. "Our employees work hard every day to earn the trust and respect of everyone we deal with, whether it's our customers, our communities, other employees, government officials, or even competitors. It's through their dedication and focus on doing what's right that WPS is able to maintain its strong record as a responsible company in a challenging industry, economy, and regulatory environment. I'm thankful to each and every one of our employees for making WPS a health insurance company that people in Wisconsin know they can trust," Keller-Allen said.

    This is the seventh year Ethisphere has published the WME rankings. Ethisphere evaluated nominees using 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 2013 list features companies in more than three dozen industries, including 43 companies headquartered outside the United States. Other 2013 WME winners include such well-known companies as eBay, Ford Motor Company, Hasbro, PepsiCo, Starbucks Coffee Company, and UPS.

    "WPS Health Insurance is a company that recognizes the competitive advantage that a strong ethical foundation and corporate responsibility play in today's business world," said Alex Brigham, executive director of the Ethisphere Institute. "As more and more organizations compete for this honor each year, the fact that WPS Health Insurance remains on the list of World's Most Ethical Companies demonstrates its industry-leading commitment to ethics and integrity."

    The rigorous 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 2013 World's Most Ethical Companies on the official Ethisphere website.


    Lottery Sweepstakes Scam!

    3/5/2013

    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 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 with WPS Insurance Corporation indicated 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 Executive Talks to The Business Journal About Health Plan Sticker Shock

    2/22/2013

    Affordable Care Act Requirements Driving Health Insurance Costs Up

    Wisconsin’s leading not-for-profit health insurer and top provider of affordable individual health plans, is exploring new markets because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to Tom Olson, WPS vice president of sales and marketing. Olson recently spoke to The Business Journal about what WPS is doing to help small business owners avoid sticker shock.

    The ACA is changing health care and health insurance. Insurance companies in Wisconsin are grappling with increased costs as they work to develop plans that incorporate all of the new requirements for health plans.

    Some plan premiums have increased dramatically over the past year while others will be increasing for next year, according to The Business Journal article. America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) listed three reasons why costs are increasing. They include a sales tax on health insurance, restrictions on age rating, and minimum essential health benefits.

    Small employers are considering a variety of ways to pay for increased insurance costs. Some small businesses are considering self-funded insurance plans, The Business Journal states, which are exempt from many ACA requirements but shift the risk onto the business. Olson explained that WPS is preparing to introduce its own small-group, self-funded plan to help small businesses provide insurance to their workers for less. Other small businesses, like the two Brookfield companies in the story, will likely tap the insurance exchange to help ease their expenses.

    Employees of a Brookfield law office quoted in the article are still adjusting to a 12% increase in health insurance rates for 2013. Another Brookfield employer raised deductibles for its employees this year to avoid a 30% rate hike, leaving the owners of that business wondering what next year will bring. Due to the age rating limitations, the biggest increases, the article states, will be for businesses with younger workers. Companies with older employees won't see as big of an increase, and in some cases might see decreases.


    WPS Health Insurance Begins American Heart Month with Go Red for Women

    2/1/2013

    Insurer promotes heart disease awareness all month long

    WPS Health Insurance, Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurer and provider of affordable group and individual health insurance, is participating in the American Heart Association's 10th annual "Go Red for Women" campaign on Feb. 1.

    Go Red for Women is promoted locally by the South Central Wisconsin Chapter of the American Heart Association. WPS employees will join Americans across the country to celebrate National Wear Red Day® to increase awareness about heart disease, the No. 1 killer of women.

    "Go Red for Women gives us a great opportunity to raise awareness among our employees and our community about heart-related illnesses that can strike women," said Christine Russell, vice president of government relations for WPS and chairperson of the Go Red for Women luncheon.

    WPS employees were invited to participate, along with others in the Madison community, in the Madison Goes Red Lighting Party on Jan. 31 at the Overture Center for the Arts to kick off American Heart Month. In addition, outdoor lighting on the WPS campus has been changed to red for the month of February.