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Wisconsin Administers Health Benefits on the Web with IBM S/390 Server

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Madison, Wisc - 15 Dec 1999: . .The State of Wisconsin this week unveiled an online health insurance system that allows users to verify coverage, switch plans and even check on the status of claims through the Web. The new system runs on an IBM S/390 enterprise server using Java technology and provides state employers and health administration officials with instant, secure Internet access to employee records and available plans.

In the first stages of implementation, the payroll and benefits staff of Wisconsin's 1,250 employer agencies will be using the system to track and monitor health insurance coverage. The employer agencies represent all state and local government agencies from the Department of Transportation to local school boards to neighborhood fire stations. In the future, the 210,000 employees currently eligible for coverage also will have access.

"Health benefit information is extremely sensitive and security was a major concern. We knew that an online system would be more efficient, but we needed to be sure that security wouldn't be compromised," said Jon Forde, Applications Development Director, Department of Employe* Trust Funds, State of Wisconsin. "The S/390 was the ideal platform for us. Not only is it more secure, but it's also faster, more scalable and more reliable."

The new system will virtually eliminate any potential redundancy or ease communication among the various program officials. For the first time, employers across the state, the 185 State administrators working for the Employe* Trust Funds Agency, and the nearly 100 health insurance carriers will have real-time access to the same information. Previously, when a participant called regarding information about benefits, a three-way trail of telephone calls and faxes between the various program administrators often resulted. Obtaining accurate status in a timely manner was a challenge. In addition, when the new system is rolled out completely, health member participants will gain the freedom to check the status of their own coverage through the Web.

"Our customers depend on us to rapidly develop and deploy applications that will help improve the efficiency of their agency and improve State services for Wisconsin residents," said Bill O'Donnell, Senior Consultant, State of Wisconsin Info-Tech Services. "With the IBM S/390 server we are able to develop and host innovative Internet applications on the same server that runs other mission-critical data center applications in a secure and private environment."

Wisconsin's health care benefit system data and the Web site are running on one IBM S/390 G5 server, assuring users continuous access to the most up-to-date and accurate information. The site was developed by the State of Wisconsin Info-Tech Services using a Java-based application developed on Windows NT and then ported to the S/390.

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* The Department of Employe Trust Funds has dropped the last "e" in employee by Wisconsin State mandate.