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 links below to access ALEX.

The benefits of using ALEX include:

  • ALEX speaks in plain English – no insurance jargon
  • The experience is highly interactive and engaging
  • ALEX personalizes and customizes each session
  • It feels like you’re having a real conversation with a benefits expert
  • ALEX can be accessed anytime, anywhere there’s an internet connection
  • It’s totally anonymous! You are not enrolling in benefits – just discovering all of the options

We are proud of our benefits and are excited for you to learn more about them through ALEX.

The information currently in the Tax Savings section of ALEX (2018 version) regarding Parking & Transit has changed due to tax liability implications of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by the Federal Government. All other benefit information remains accurate. Information regarding the Parking & Transit benefit changes effective June 1, 2018 may be found here.

 (NOTE: Chrome or Firefox are the preferred internet browsers for ALEX. Internet Explorer 11 or higher can also be used.)

Before You Begin

To get the most accurate and personalized information from your ALEX experience, you will need to know your Employment Category before you begin your conversation. Employment Categories are listed below. If you are unsure which group you’re in, please complete this UW System Employment Category Questionnaire before you begin the ALEX conversation.

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 the 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 and enrolled in WRS Univ Staff – Temp w/one appt, in WRS
University Staff – Temporary with one appointment and not enrolled in WRS Univ Staff – Temp w/one appt, no WRS
University Staff – Temporary with two or more concurrent appointments and 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 and 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, it’s recommended that you select Employment Category FA/AS/LI, in WRS, working 50% or more.

Frequently Asked Questions

We hope that ALEX answers many of your questions about the benefits plans available to you as a UW System employee but ALEX doesn’t answer everything. You can always contact your human resources office with any questions you have after reviewing ALEX. The following list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) has been developed using feedback that has been provided in ALEX conversation.

General

It depends. How many questions do you have? ALEX is tailored to your needs and interests. It may only take a few minutes or you can spend more time and get more detailed information. Remember, you do not need to complete your ALEX conversation in one sitting. If you provide ALEX with an email address, he will save your answers for your next visit.

The information that you enter into ALEX is completely confidential and is not shared in anyway. 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 but we do not track who entered the comments.

You can have a conversation without sound by clicking the Closed Caption (cc) button at the top right side of the ALEX screen. You can also visit our website for written information here.

It is important to understand what these terms mean so that you can fully understand your potential out-of-pocket costs. ALEX does include explanations of the common insurance terms as it explains how the plan designs work. For a Glossary of Health Coverage and Medical Terms, provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, click here.

Most modules provide an opportunity to change the information entered but not all of them do. We are hoping that functionality will be available in the future. In the meantime, you don’t need to start the ALEX conversation over again. You can restart or move to another module by clicking on the menu on the top left hand corner.

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, click here. When you click on a county on the map, the available health plans and their five major health system provider groups will be shown (click on the Find Providers icon for their full provider directory. By clicking on a health plan name, you will be directed to a page that includes a link to the health plan’s provider directory and plan contact information if you want to confirm whether a particular provider is in the plan’s provider network.

ALEX is designed to help you understand your choices based primarily on estimates of your expected out-of-pocket costs. Because all of the health plans have the same out-of-pocket costs, such as deductible, copays and coinsurance, there is no financial advantage to you 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 non-HDHP), you can select the health insurance carrier that best meets your needs based on its providers, convenience and other considerations that may be important to you.

For more information about the major health system providers for each health plan and links to the health plan’s provider directory, click here. When you click on a county on the map, the available health plans and their five major health system provider groups will be shown (click on the Find Providers icon for the health plan’s full provider directory). By clicking on a health plan name, you will be directed to a page that includes a link to the health plan’s provider directory and plan contact information if you want to confirm whether a particular provider is in the plan’s provider network.

Each health insurance carrier offers you the choice between two plan designs: the Health Plan and High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). Both plan designs have Uniform Benefits so all of the health insurance carriers will apply the same deductible, copays and coinsurance. You need to decide whether you want an HDHP or not and then select the health insurance carrier that best meets your needs for providers, convenience and other considerations that may be important to you. If you are uncertain about whether an HDHP is right for you, we suggest that you review the following resources:

HDHPs are right for some, and not for others. Before enrolling for an HDHP, be sure you understand that you are financially responsible for all non-preventive medical expenses you incur, including prescriptions, until you reach the annual deductible. A deductible is the amount of money you have to pay for medical costs before your health insurance starts picking up a greater portion of the tab. So, for instance, if you’re in an 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 that you may use to pay for medical, dental, prescription and vision expenses for you, your spouse and qualifying dependents.

In order to enroll in an HDHP and an HSA, you must be eligible for both plans.

To learn more about whether an HDHP is right for you, we suggest that you review the following resources:

The HDHPs and Health Plans both have deductibles before benefits are payable. The difference is the amount of that deductible and what it applies to. Both plan designs will cover an annual preventive exam at no cost to you (there may be expenses from the exam, however, that do not qualify as preventive).

If you have family coverage with an HDHP:

You will pay for all non-preventive medical services until you meet your annual $3,000 family deductible ($1,500 if you have 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 all non-preventive medical services until you meet your annual $500 family deductible ($250 if you have 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 only even if the deductible has not been met.

Prescription drugs are not subject to the deductible.

The intent of offering ALEX is to provide you with tools and resources to help you make the best benefits choices for you and your family. Because of the lower monthly employee premium contribution and the UW System’s contribution to an eligible employee’s Health Savings Account (HSA), it is not unusual for the HDHP to have lower estimated out-of-pocket costs than the Health Plans and be recommended by ALEX.

But an HDHP is not for everyone! See the “Is a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) Right for Me?” question for more information and resources.

These are all examples of office visits that are subject to the primary care copayment. 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 plan to offer a national provider network and also provides coverage if you use non-network providers. These are the plans that people tend to select when they want to have access out-of-network providers like Mayo Clinic, John Hopkins, or other specialty providers. They are also the plans that 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 premium costs. 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.