Review Benefits with ALEXALEX

ALEX is an interactive decision-support tool that acts as an informative, virtual benefits counselor to help you learn more about the UW System’s comprehensive benefits in a personalized way.

Click on the ALEX link for the calendar year you would like to review benefit plan options for:

  • If you want to learn about benefits for 2020, use the 2020 ALEX.
  • If you want to learn about benefits for 2019 or you’ve experienced a life event that allows you to make changes to your benefits in 2019, use the 2019 ALEX.

Why should you 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
  • It’s anonymous! You are not enrolling in benefits – 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. They are listed below. If you are unsure which category you’re in, complete this UW System Employment Category Questionnaire.

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

(Complete the questionnaire to determine which of the following Employment Category applies to you.)

UW System Employment Categories Abbreviations Used in ALEX
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 Hourly 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.

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 plans 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.

General

It depends. How many questions do 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. We are not able to capture who entered the 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.

This functionality may be available in the future. In the meantime, you do not need to start the ALEX conversation from the beginning. You may choose the module you would like to listen to by clicking the module in the menu on the left.

Health 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 system providers for each health plan and links to the health plan’s provider directory in 2019, click here. For 2020 information, click here.

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 health insurance carrier over another. The exception is the Access Plan that 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 in 2019, click here. For 2020 information, click here.

Each health insurance carrier offers two plan designs: the Health Plan and High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). Both plan designs have Uniform Benefits. This means all health insurance carriers apply the same deductible, copays and coinsurance. 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 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, if you’re in 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.

In addition, if you enroll in an HDHP, you are required to enroll in a Health Savings Account (HSA). An HSA is an individually-owned, 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 do not qualify as 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, etc., tests, procedures and facility charges. 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, the Uniform Benefits will take effect for that individual. This includes tests, procedures and facility charges. Benefits are payable once the deductible is met.

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 than the Health Plans; therefore, the HDHP will be recommended.

But 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, you can include your expected visits to these types of providers. For a more detailed list of types of office visits and the applicable copayment, click here.

The Access Plans are more costly because they are the only plans to offer a national provider network and out-of-network coverage. These are the plans people tend to select when they want to have access to out-of-network providers like Mayo Clinic, John Hopkins, or other specialty providers. They are also the plans retirees who live outside of Wisconsin may select. These two groups tend to have higher than average claims costs, which has directly led to higher premiums. There is also little ability for the health plan to negotiate for reduced pricing when non-network providers are used.

The Access Plan is not usually considered unless one of the situations described above apply or if there are dependents who reside or attend school outside of the Health Plans’ service areas and their expected medical costs exceed the additional premium costs for the Access Plan.