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WellPoint Plans to Eliminate 1,500 Positions

January 19, 2009

WellPoint is eliminating 1,500 jobs, or about 3.5 percent of its 42,000-member workforce, the Indianapolis-based health insurer announced Friday, January 16. The cuts include 900 unfilled open positions and about 600 workers.

The staff cuts won’t affect Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D compliance staff, according to a company statement. On January 12, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services forbade WellPoint from enrolling new members in these two programs and conducting related marketing efforts because of multiple deficiencies.

WellPoint, the nation’s largest health insurer by membership with 35 million enrollees, said it will take an after-tax charge of about $24 million because of the job cuts. The company last week said that it had an investment loss of $349 million in the fourth quarter. Officials said they would release more financial details on 2008 and the company’s outlook for 2009 at its earnings release January 28.

“With the current state of the economy, we made a difficult decision to adjust the size of our workforce as we continue to meet our members’ needs while appropriately controlling operating expenses,” WellPoint president and CEO Angela Braly said in the statement.

Aetna and Cigna Corp. previously announced job eliminations in response to the recession.

Filed by Rebecca Vesely of Modern Healthcare, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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