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WPS Health Insurance drops Medicare drug plan to focus on 'Medigap' coverage

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WPS Health Solutions

WPS Health Solutions in Monona

Monona-based WPS Health Insurance is ending its Medicare Part D drug coverage next year, requiring about 11,000 enrollees in Wisconsin to find other plans.

WPS is dropping the prescription drug plan, which it has offered since the government added drug coverage as a Medicare option in 2006, so it can concentrate on its Medicare Supplement Insurance plans, spokesperson DeAnne Boegli said.

“WPS is focused on retaining our status as Wisconsin’s leading Medicare Supplement provider,” Boegli said in a statement. “We aim to keep that lead and are bringing this coverage to even more states with the goal of being a leading national Medicare Supplement provider in the years ahead.”

Medicare Supplement plans, often called Medigap, fill in gaps in the coverage of traditional Medicare insurance. WPS has about 70,000 Medicare Supplement members in Wisconsin, Boegli said. About 7,000 of them, and 4,000 others, have its Medicare Part D plan that is ending, she said.

Twenty-three other Medicare Part D plans, which cover medications, will be offered in Wisconsin next year by nine out-of-state companies, including Aetna, Anthem, Cigna, Humana and United Healthcare.

People in the WPS Part D plan that is ending can choose one of the other plans. They can also switch to Medicare Advantage, private plans that often include drug coverage.

Fred Wade, 80, of Shorewood Hills, has had WPS Medicare Supplement and Medicare Part D coverage for many years. He takes expensive chemotherapy drugs for multiple myeloma and was upset to learn Thursday that the drug coverage was ending.

“It was a big shock,” said Wade, a retired attorney, noting the “hassle” of trying to find other coverage.

His wife, Marilyn Townsend, an attorney who has state benefits through her job on the state Labor and Industry Review Commission, said she previously also had WPS health insurance.

“We trusted a local company more,” Townsend said. “I always felt we’d have a little more local accountability.”

Editor’s note: This story has been changed to correct Fred Wade’s name.

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