Brand Evolution of Upper Peninsula Health Plan

Posted on July 12, 2016


MARQUETTE – Upper Peninsula Health Plan (UPHP) opened its doors for business on August 1, 1998, managing the health care of 1,900 Upper Peninsula residents serving Medicaid and MIChild beneficiaries. The health plan’s partners were a combined 300 hospitals, clinics, and medical providers throughout the Upper Peninsula. Since then, the health plan has grown significantly. Enrollment has increased to more than 47,000 Upper Peninsula residents-15% of the population. Members get benefits from Michigan Medicaid, MIChild, Children Special Health Care Services, MI Health Link, and Medicare Advantage product lines. UPHP serves as the medical home for those members. The provider network has also grown, now including more than 900 hospitals, offices, and individual providers.

In 1998, the health plan was located on Coles Drive in Marquette and employed only a handful of staff. Today, UPHP has over 140 employees working in the following areas: Government Programs, Customer Service, and Transportation; Disease, Quality, and Pharmacy Management; Credentialing and Provider Relations; Finance; Information Systems; Business Development; Compliance; Marketing and Communications; and other operations. Beyond managed care, staff members regularly contribute time and resources to community and charitable events. Upper Peninsula Health Plan contributed over $100,000 in community and event sponsorships in 2015.

In 2002, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved a rural health waiver for Medicaid managed care for the Upper Peninsula region, resulting in UPHP being awarded the sole Medicaid managed care contract in the Upper Peninsula. In 2013, a similar waiver was approved for the MIChild program (CHIP) resulting in UPHP being awarded the only MIChild contract in the UP.

In 2006, the National Committee for Quality Assurance accredited UPHP as a Medicaid managed-care organization. During its most recent accreditation review, NCQA awarded UPHP an accreditation status of Commendable “for service and clinical quality that meet or exceed NCQA’s rigorous requirements for consumer protection and quality improvement.” Upper Peninsula Health Plan (HMO) received an overall score of 4.5 out of 5 in NCQA’s Medicaid Health Insurance Plan Ratings 2015-2016.

The health plan continues to receive consistently good evaluations by the State of Michigan. U.S. News and World Report has touted UPHP as one of America’s best health plans. Beyond the members served in managed care, thousands more Upper Peninsula residents get care from the UPHP network via employer benefits. UPHP serves as the hub for commercial, preferred provider organization (PPO) activity in the Upper Peninsula.

In 2011, UPHP began operating a Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plan and they added a traditional Medicare Advantage product in 2014. The health plan received the Lake Superior Community Partnership’s 2011 Distinguished Service Award for a business that makes a strong contribution to the betterment of Marquette County.

As of March 2015, Upper Peninsula Health Plan began operating as an Integrated Care Organization through the MI Health Link (MHL) program. MHL is a care option for qualified members who are enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid. In the 2016 Guide to Michigan Medicaid Health Plans Quality Checkup, UPHP received the highest possible score for: Doctors Communication and Service, Getting Care, Keeping Kids Healthy, and Living with Illness (4 of 5 categories).

President and Chief Executive Officer, Dennis H. Smith, said that “sound business practices and dedicated directors and staff are key to UPHP’s ongoing success.” Smith added “the health plan’s growth would not be possible without a decade of consistent support from Upper Peninsula physicians, hospitals, health departments, and volunteers.”

The health plan plays a primary role in projects that address specific health concerns, collaborating with Local Health Departments, Upper Peninsula Diabetes Outreach Network, Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress, and Local Department of Human Services offices to name a few. For example, in response to a strong emphasis on addressing social determinants of health by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, UPHP has implemented a telephonic pilot project, Connected Communities for Health (CC4h) helpdesk, to address the basic resource needs of our members and connect them with the resources that exist within their own communities across the Upper Peninsula.

In January of 2016, UPHP began a rebranding project to coincide with a physical relocation to a new building at Liberty Way on Washington Street in Marquette. The brand shift precedes the upcoming transition into a state of the art headquarters. The image below is an architectural rendering of the UPHP home which is estimated to be complete in October 2016.

New Building Signage

The new logo (shown below) illustrates the important role UPHP plays in health care in the Upper Peninsula.


The two ribbons coming together around the silhouette of the U.P. to form the flag in the logo are strategically used as a metaphor to represent our commitment to members, and our partnership with providers, to provide access to resources to improve the health of those whose care we manage. The implied motion of the flag symbolizes our mission to constantly advance our delivery of high-quality, innovative, and cost-effective health care services to the Upper Peninsula employers and residents while maintaining the integrity of our regional health care system.

“It is an exciting time for Upper Peninsula Health Plan as we transition to a new, state of the art building that will allow us to continue to provide excellent service to our members, while improving the avenues to do so for our staff,” said Smith. “We will be hosting a Business After Hours at our new facility in November. We encourage the public to come out and learn more about UPHP and the services we provide to Upper Peninsula residents.”

For a printable version of this press release and contact information, click here: Brand Evolution of UPHP.