ALEX is an interactive decision-support tool and an informative, virtual benefits counselor that helps you learn about the UW System’s comprehensive benefits in a personalized way. To learn about benefits the UW System offers:
- 2021 ALEX – Use this version to learn about your 2021 benefits.
Why use ALEX?
- ALEX speaks in plain English – no insurance jargon
- ALEX is interactive and engaging
- ALEX personalizes and customizes each session
- ALEX can be accessed anytime, anywhere there’s an internet connection
- ALEX is anonymous!
- Note: You are not enrolling in benefits through ALEX, just discovering the options
We are proud of our benefits and are excited for you to learn more through ALEX.
Chrome or Firefox are the preferred browsers. Internet Explorer 11 or higher can also be used.
Before You Begin
To get the most accurate and personalized information from your ALEX experience, first, determine your Employment Category. Listed below are the categories and the abbreviations used in ALEX.
UW System Employment Categories:
Note: WRS Stands for Wisconsin Retirement System
(Complete the questionnaire to determine which of the following Employment Category applies to you.)
|UW System Employment Categories||Abbreviations Used in ALEX|
|Faculty, Academic Staff, Limited Appointee – Enrolled in WRS and working 50% or more||FA/AS/LI – In WRS, working 50% or more|
|Faculty, Academic Staff, Limited Appointee – Enrolled in WRS and working less than 50%||FA/AS/LI – In WRS, working less than 50%|
|Graduate Assistant Appointment (TA, RA, PA, Scholar, Fellow, post-Doc) or Short-Term Academic Staff – Not Eligible for WRS||Grad Asst / Short-Term Academic Staff|
|University Staff (including University Staff Project) – Enrolled in WRS and working 50% or more||Univ Staff – In WRS, working 50% or more|
|University Staff (including University Staff Project) – Enrolled in WRS and working less than 50%||Univ Staff – In WRS, working less than 50%|
|University Staff – Temporary with one appointment – Enrolled in WRS||Univ Staff – Temp w/one appt, in WRS|
|University Staff – Temporary with one appointment – Not enrolled in WRS||Univ Staff – Temp w/one appt, no WRS|
|University Staff – Temporary with two or more concurrent appointments – Enrolled in WRS (working 40 hours per week)||Univ Staff – Temp w/2+ appts, in WRS|
|University Staff – Temporary with two or more concurrent appointments – Not enrolled in WRS||Univ Staff – Temp with two or more concurrent appts – no WRS|
|Crafts Worker – (painter, steamfitter, carpenter, etc.) – Enrolled in WRS||Crafts Worker – In WRS|
|Student Help Employee||Student Hourly Employee|
- If yes, and you are working for UW System, your Employment Category is Rehired Annuitant for Supplemental Retirement Savings Plans (Tax Sheltered Annuity and Wisconsin Deferred Compensation programs).
- If you are collecting a WRS annuity, including rehired annuitants, your benefits are administered by the Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF). You can use ALEX to learn about the benefits plans offered but the premium information will not be accurate for you. Keep this in mind if you use ALEX to estimate out-of-pocket medical, dental and vision costs.
- Visit the ETF benefits website for more information.
For a complete benefit overview, select Employment Category FA/AS/LI, in WRS, working 50% or more.
Frequently Asked Questions
We hope that ALEX answers your questions about the benefits available to you as a UW System employee. However, ALEX doesn’t answer everything. Contact your human resources office with questions after reviewing ALEX or review the list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) below for additional information.
It depends how many questions you have. ALEX is tailored to your needs and interests. It may only take a few minutes. Remember, you do not need to complete your ALEX conversation in one sitting. If you provide ALEX with an email address, ALEX will save your answers for your next visit.
The information you enter into ALEX is confidential and is not shared. The only information collected is the number of employees in each Employment Category who visit ALEX, your institution and any feedback entered about your experience. ALEX does not capture who entered what comments.
You can have a conversation without sound by clicking the Closed Caption (cc) button at the top of the ALEX screen. You can also visit our website for written information.
It is important to understand what these terms mean so you can understand your potential out-of-pocket costs. ALEX includes explanations of the common insurance terms as it explains how the plan designs work. Or use the Glossary of Health Coverage and Medical Terms, provided by the U.S. Department of Labor.
No. ALEX is only one resource intended to help you determine which plan may be best for you and your family. If another resource leads you to believe that a different plan than ALEX recommended would be better for your situation, then you may enroll in a different plan.
ALEX includes a link to provider information on the comparison of health plan designs and when a health plan design is recommended, but you don’t need to go back through the ALEX presentation to get that information.
For more information about the major health systems for each insurance carrier and links to each insurance carrier’s provider directory, review the Health Plan Search tool.
ALEX is designed to help you understand the plan designs. The recommendation is based primarily on your expected out-of-pocket costs. Because all health insurance carriers have the same plan designs, there is no financial advantage of choosing one insurance carrier over another. The exception is the Access Plan. The Access Plan has the same in-network coverage but has a higher premium because it offers nationwide and out-of-network coverage.
Once you have decided what plan design you prefer (HDHP or Health Plan), you can select the health insurance carrier that best meets your needs based on the county in which you prefer to seek services in. For more information about each health plan’s provider directory review the Health Plan Search tool.
Each health insurance carrier offers two plan designs: the Health Plan and High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). Both plan designs have Uniform Benefits. You need to decide whether you want the Health Plan or HDHP and then select the health insurance carrier that best meets your needs; based on providers and convenience. If you are uncertain if a HDHP is right for you, view the Plan Design Options eLearning video, provided by the Department of Employee Trust Funds.
When enrolled in a HDHP, you are financially responsible for all non-preventive medical expenses incurred, including most prescriptions, until you meet the annual deductible. A deductible is the amount you pay for medical costs before your health insurance starts to pay a portion of the costs. For instance, for a family HDHP with a $3,000 deductible, you’ll have to cover $3,000 in medical costs out of your own pocket before your insurance starts to pay benefits.
If you enroll in an HDHP, you are required to enroll in a Health Savings Account (HSA). An HSA is an individually-owned, triple tax-advantaged savings account you may use to pay for eligible medical, dental, prescription and vision expenses for you, your spouse and qualifying dependents. To enroll in an HDHP and an HSA, you must be eligible for both.
To learn more about whether an HDHP is right for you, view the following Plan Design Options eLearning video, provided by the Department of Employee Trust Funds.
The HDHPs and Health Plans both have deductibles before benefits are payable. The difference is the amount of the deductible and what it applies to. Both plan designs cover an annual preventive exam at no cost to you (there may however, be expenses from the exam that are not considered preventive).
If you have family coverage with an HDHP:
You will pay for non-preventive medical services until you meet your annual $3,000 family deductible ($1,500 for single coverage). This includes visits to medical providers, including chiropractor, physical therapy, tests, procedures, facility charges, etc. Benefits are payable once the deductible is met.
Prescription drugs are subject to the deductible.
If you have family coverage with a Health Plan:
You will pay for non-preventive medical services until you meet your annual $500 family deductible ($250 for single coverage). If an individual within a family plan meets the annual individual $250 deductible, benefits are then payable by the plan for this individual. This includes tests, procedures and facility charges.
Visits to medical providers, including chiropractor, physical therapy, etc., are subject to the office visit copay (even if the deductible has not been met).
Prescription drugs are not subject to the deductible.
Because of the lower monthly employee premium contribution and the UW System’s contribution to an eligible employee’s Health Savings Account (HSA), the HDHP will often have a lower estimated out-of-pocket cost; therefore, the HDHP is recommended.
An HDHP is not for everyone! See the “Is a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) Right for Me?” question for more information.
These are examples of office visits that are subject to the primary care copay. When ALEX asks you to estimate the number of primary care visits for the year, include your expected visits to these types of providers. For a detailed list of types of office visits and the applicable copayment, review the Guide to Office Visit Copays.