Madison – WPS Health Insurance will create 1,200 new jobs in Wisconsin after winning five-year contracts to help administer more than $10 billion in benefits and services for military personnel and their families, the company announced Tuesday.
Bill Bathke, WPS executive vice president and chief operating officer, said the 1,200 jobs in fields like claims processing and customer service will be split almost evenly between Wausau and the Madison area.
The additions will bring the company’s work force to just under 5,000 in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan.
WPS won a contract in July from the Department of Defense to administer a health-care program to more than 1.7 million uniformed services retirees, family members and survivors. It also announced last month that it would be a subcontractor in a second health-care contract with the government.
WPS administers health benefits for nearly 4.3 million Medicare beneficiaries and 2 million active-duty service personnel, veterans and their family members. A third division administers benefits for individuals, businesses and local governments.
Gov. Jim Doyle said the news was welcome considering the state’s struggles with unemployment over the past two years.
Wisconsin’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.6 percent in July, unchanged from the month before. Nationally, the seasonally adjusted rate was 6.2 percent in July.
For the Wausau area, the unemployment rate was 5 percent in July, up from 4.4 percent. The rate in Madison was 3 percent, up from 2.8 percent.
"WPS is exactly the kind of company we want to make sure grows and expands here in Wisconsin, a high-end company that pays good wages to its workers so they can support their families," Doyle said.
Bathke gave few details about the new positions or how much the company would profit from the new contracts, fearing it would tip off competitors.
The 1,200 new employees are expected to join the company over the next year, with many working in customer service, claims processing and computer information services.
The company has already started filling the jobs in the Wausau area, where WPS currently employs about 20 people, and will begin the process next week to hire new people in the Madison area, Bathke said.
Bathke would not detail the salaries for the positions but said some would be in line with the $9 to $11.50 an hour pay range for other clerical jobs at WPS. A worker making $11.50 an hour would earn just less than $24,000 a year.
Company spokeswoman Beth Zurbuchen said the new jobs in areas like claims processing and customer service will not require a college degree and those hired will receive paid training through the company.