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WPS to create 1,200 new jobs


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.


Details undisclosed


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.


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