Saving 1% More

Many financial planners recommend that you should be saving 15% of your annual income for retirement - are you?

If you are, great!

If not, 15% may seem a little intimidating, but don't worry, there are easy ways you can begin increasing how much you save for retirement without breaking the bank. Consider increasing your UW Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA) 403(b) contribution by 1%. With this increase you may hardly notice a change in your take-home pay, BUT it could translate to tens of thousands of dollars to use in retirement (depending on future market values).

If you are eligible, your Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) benefit is a great tool in saving for retirement, but contributing to the UW TSA can also help.

If you are already contributing to the UW TSA and want to see how you are doing in saving for retirement, sign up for an individual counseling session with your provider. You can do this by visiting Counseling Sessions under the Education section of the UW TSA website.

If you are not currently contributing to the UW TSA Program, there is no time like the present to enroll! Visit the UW Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA) 403(b) website for information on the plan and on how to enroll.

Source: UW System Human Resources

2019 Insurance Premium Deductions

This article indicates when your UW paycheck will reflect your 2019 premium costs for your 2019 benefits. It also indicates when your paycheck will reflect your 2019 Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and/or Health Savings Account (HSA) contributions.

Health, Dental and Vision Insurance Premiums
Insurance premiums for 2019 coverage were reflected on the paycheck dated December 20, 2018 for employees paid biweekly and January 2, 2019 for employees paid monthly.

State Group Health Insurance program premiums for most employees are not changing. Crafts workers and employees paying less-than-full-time rates may see a slight increase to their premium costs.

Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and Health Savings Account (HSA) Contributions
If you enrolled in a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and/or Health Savings Account (HSA) for 2019, the first contribution was on the January 3, 2019 paycheck for employees paid biweekly and on the January 2, 2019 paycheck for employees paid monthly.

Note: For the FSA, the funds may be used prior to being in your account; however, for the HSA, the funds must be in your account prior to being used.

Individual & Family Life Insurance and UW Employees, Inc. Life Insurance Premiums
Employees that will be in a new premium age category as of January 1, 2019, saw their premium change on the paycheck dated December 20, 2018 (employees paid bi-weekly) and January 2, 2019 (employees paid monthly). Premium changes that occur due to coverage level increases during the Individual & Family Life Insurance Annual Increase Option period also began on these paychecks.

Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) Insurance Premiums
Employees that will be in a new premium age category as of January 1, 2019, saw their premium change on the paycheck dated December 20, 2018 (employees paid bi-weekly) and January 2, 2019 (employees paid monthly). All other employees saw a slight increase to their AD&D premium costs on these paychecks.

Income Continuation Insurance Premiums
The Income Continuation Insurance (ICI) premium will increase by 20%, effective February 1, 2019. Employees will see the premium increase on the paycheck dated February 14, 2019 (employees paid bi-weekly) and March 1, 2019 (employees paid monthly).

Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) Contributions: Employee and Employer Contribution Rates
The Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) employee and employer contribution rates for 2019 will decrease slightly for most employees. The employer and employee contribution rates will decrease 0.15% from 6.7% to 6.55% for a total decrease of 0.3%. This includes protective employees with Social Security.

Decreases occurred on the January 3, 2019 paycheck for employees paid biweekly and on the January 2, 2019 paycheck for employees paid monthly.

Source: UW System Human Resources

2019 Benefits ID Cards

State Group Health Insurance Plans
Health insurance plan ID cards are typically sent by health insurance carriers to participants by the end of December for enrollments that occurred during the Annual Benefits Enrollment (ABE) in October. The ID cards are effective January 1, 2019. Present your new ID card at all appointments after January 1, 2019. Remember, before seeing a health care provider in 2019, check to make sure they are in-network by visiting your health plan's online provider directory.

The following employees will receive health insurance ID cards for 2019:

  • Employees who chose a different health plan: Employees who chose a different health plan design or a different health insurance carrier during the Annual Benefits Enrollment (ABE) period will receive a new ID card.
  • Employees who chose the same health plan: Employees who chose the same health plan design with the same health insurance carrier during the Annual Benefits Enrollment (ABE) period will typically only receive a new ID card if they added or removed dependents.

Pharmacy Benefits
Newly enrolled employees in health insurance will also receive an ID card from Navitus for pharmacy benefits. Currently enrolled employees will only receive a new card if they added or removed dependents. If a change was made, employees can expect to receive their ID card in early January.

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) and Health Savings Account (HSA)
Newly enrolled employees in a Health Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA), Limited Purpose Flexible Spending Account (LPFSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA) will receive their debit card for these plans from TASC, the FSA & HSA plan administrator in early January. New enrollees can submit claims through the manual claims submission process until their debit card is received.

Employees who previously participated in these plans and already have a debit card may use the same card as previous years until the expiration date listed on the card. If the employee no longer has their FSA or HSA debit card from previous years, contact TASC at 844-786-3947 or to request a new card.

Dental Insurance
Newly enrolled employees in Uniform Dental through Delta Dental will receive an ID card. Currently enrolled employees in Uniform Dental with Delta Dental will only receive a new ID card if their level of coverage has changed (single to family, etc.). If a change was made, employees can expect to receive their ID cards late December.

All employees that enrolled in a supplemental dental plan for 2019 will receive an ID card from Delta Dental late December.

Vision Insurance
VSP, the vision insurance plan administrator, does not issue ID cards. Employees that are enrolled in vision for 2019 should notify their vision provider that they have VSP vision insurance when they schedule their vision appointment. The provider will then contact VSP to verify coverage.

Review Your Cards For Accuracy
Review your ID cards for accuracy. If you discover errors or if you do not receive your ID cards by mid-January, contact the benefit plan directly to request new ID cards.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Your 2019 Insurance Benefits - Reminder of Changes

Review your 2019 Benefit Enrollments
As the new year begins, it is a great time to review your 2019 benefits.

To review your benefits, log in to the MyUW portal for UW-Madison or for all other UW System institutions and launch the Benefit Information tile. Choose the Summary tab and click View Benefits Summary Detail. On the Benefits Summary page, in the As Of Date field, enter 01/01/2019 and click Refresh to see your 2019 benefit elections.

After you have refreshed your memory on the benefits you elected for 2019, the remainder of this article will remind you of 2019 benefit plan changes.

Health Insurance
For 2019 there are minimal changes to the State Group Health Insurance Program.

  • Annual deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums will not change for 2019; however, they were reset at the beginning of the new plan year, January 1, 2019.
  • Employees enrolled in the State Group Health Insurance Program and their covered spouses and dependents must select a primary care provider (PCP).
    • For assistance designating a PCP, contact your health plan directly.
    • Employees that do not select a PCP will be auto-assigned a PCP by their health plan. Employees may contact their health plan directly at any time to change the PCP that was auto-assigned to them.
  • Newly Covered Services – Telehealth services, home sleep studies and the initial set of hard contacts for participants with keratoconus are a few of the new services that are covered in 2019.
  • No Longer Covered – Removal of skin tags (unless medically necessary) and the removal of erupted teeth (covered by Uniform Dental) are no longer covered services by the State Group Health Insurance Program in 2019.

Pharmacy Benefits with Navitus
In 2019, there are increased cost sharing for level 3 drugs that have alternatives available on the formulary list; known as “dispense-as-written” drugs. Navitus has contacted affected members to provide additional information.

Find in-network pharmacies and formulary lists on the Navitus website, or contact Navitus directly with questions at 1-866-333-2757.

Well Wisconsin Program Incentive
Employees (and spouses) enrolled in the State Group Health Insurance Program are eligible for the Well Wisconsin Program Incentive. To receive the Wellness Incentive for 2019, a health screening, health assessment and a Well-Being activity will need to be completed. Direct mailings will come from StayWell in early 2019.

Uniform Dental Benefits
Delta Dental will continue to administer the Uniform Dental Benefits in 2019. If you elected State Group Health Insurance with Uniform Dental Benefits, you have access to preventive dental services in 2019.

  • Newly Covered Service – Removal of erupted teeth (no longer covered by State Group Health insurance).
  • Orthodontia Reminder – Covered for children up to the age of 19.

Reminder: Evidence Based Integrated Care allows employees access to additional dental services (cleanings or topical fluoride treatments) for certain medical conditions such as cancer therapy, periodontal disease, diabetes, pregnancy, high-risk cardiac conditions, suppressed immune systems, kidney failure or dialysis. Contact Delta Dental directly for additional information.

Supplemental Dental Benefits
Delta Dental is administering the supplemental dental plans in 2019. Two plans are available:

  • PPO – Select plan
  • PPO plus Premier – Select Plus plan

One of the main differences between the plans is the provider network. If you enrolled in the Select plan for 2019, you should confirm that your dentist is in the PPO network. If you enrolled in the Select Plus plan, you should confirm that your dentist is in the PPO or Premier network. Find a Delta Dental network dentist here.

  • Newly Covered Service – Orthodontia is covered for children and adults under the PPO plus Premier – Select Plus plan.

Review the dental comparison chart for details surrounding the annual maximums and the level of coverage for different services provided by each of the dental plans.

Vision Benefits
Changes to the vision coverage include no charge for standard progressive lenses and an increase to the frame allowance for featured frame brands from $150 to $200.

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)
The annual maximum for the Health Care and Limited Purpose FSA’s for 2019 is $2,650.

Health Savings Accounts (HSA)

  • For 2019, the HSA annual maximum contribution increased from $3,450 to $3,500 for single coverage and from $6,900 to $7,000 for family coverage.
  • There is an additional $1,000 catch-up contribution amount maximum for employees that are or will attain age 55+ during the calendar year. 
  • All employer HSA contribution amounts will remain the same for 2019: $750 for employees enrolled in single coverage and $1,500 for employees enrolled in family coverage. Employees with less than half time rates will receive $375 if enrolled in single coverage and $750 if enrolled in family coverage. Crafts workers are not eligible for the employer HSA contribution.
  • Employee contribution changes may be made at any time.

Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D)
Effective January 1, 2019, an identity theft protection benefit was added to the plan (LifeStages Identity Management Services from CyberScout).

Source: UW System Human Resources

Social Security and Medicare Taxes for 2019

The Social Security wage base has risen to $132,900 in 2019 from $128,400 in 2018. This means that the first $132,900 of an employee's taxable wages are subject to Social Security taxes. You and the UW will each pay 6.2% on taxable wages up to $132,900.

An employee's entire taxable salary is subject to Medicare tax. Both the UW and the employee pay 1.45% on all taxable compensation. Further, any taxable wages that exceed $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples filing jointly) are subject to an additional 0.9% tax. There is no employer match for additional Medicare tax.

Source: UW Service Center

College Savings Made Simple

Saving for your child's post-high school education may seem daunting, but with Edvest, Wisconsin's 529 College Savings Plan, you can start making small contributions today that will benefit them in the future. Anyone – parents, grandparents, extended family members and friends – can set up an account for anyone else. An account can also be used to save for one’s own continuing education.

Edvest makes saving easy by offering low fees, a low minimum contribution of $15 per pay period, and tax deductions for Wisconsin residents (limitations apply). You may have contributions to Edvest allocated from your paycheck. Payroll deduction is not available.

The best part is the benefit to your child(ren), who can use these funds at universities, colleges, professional schools, technical colleges, and graduate programs across the country and even at some institutions abroad. Funds can cover tuition, books, room and board, computers, tablets, and many other expenses.

For more information and to open an account, visit the Edvest website.

Source: UW Service Center

WRS News Online, November 2018

External link:

2019 Tax-Sheltered Annuity and Wisconsin Deferred Compensation Limits

The IRS recently announced the 2019 contribution limits. These contribution limits apply to the UW Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA) 403(b) Program and the Wisconsin Deferred Compensation (WDC) 457 Program.

In 2019, employees may contribute a basic maximum of $19,000 to the TSA Program. Employees age 50 and over can contribute an additional $6,000 for a total of $25,000. These same limits apply to WDC. Employees can contribute the maximum to both programs for a total of $38,000 (under age 50) or $50,000 (age 50 or older).

If you have 15 years or more of service with the UW and have contributed less than an average of $5,000 per year over your UW employment, you may have an additional "catch-up" opportunity with the TSA Program. Contact your human resources office for more information.

Both pre-tax and Roth (after-tax) contributions count towards the annual limits. Note: Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) are a type of retirement account separate from the TSA and WDC Programs and have separate limits.

To change your TSA deduction for 2019 or enroll in the program, submit your TSA Salary Reduction Agreement to your human resources office in early December. If you are enrolling for the first time, set up your account with the provider(s) of your choice either online, by EZ Enrollment form, or via paper application prior to submitting your Salary Reduction Agreement. Clearly mark the form as calendar year 2019.

For questions on the TSA program go to the TSA website - and don’t hesitate to use ALEX, a personalized online benefits counselor. You may also contact your human resources office with questions on your benefit plans.

To change your WDC contribution call the WDC office at 1-877-457-9327 or access your account at the WDC website. The WDC website also has information about enrolling in the program. WDC changes must be made with Empower, the third-party WDC plan administrator, in early December 2018, so that there is adequate time to electronically send the information to the UW Service Center.

Source: UW System Human Resources

ALEX Available for 2019 Benefits Planning

You may already be aware that you have access to ALEX, a personalized online benefits counselor, to answer most questions surrounding your 2018 benefit plans.

With the 2019 Annual Benefits Enrollment (ABE) period just around the corner (October 1 – 26, 2018), we are pleased to announce that you will also have access to ALEX to help you make 2019 benefit plan decisions. The benefit plan elections made during ABE will be effective January 1, 2019.

As a reminder, ALEX is an interactive benefits decision tool to help you understand the benefit plans and options offered to you and your family year round. Whether you’re a new or long-term employee, ALEX is available to you at any time! As the ABE period quickly approaches, here is some additional information surrounding both the 2018 and 2019 versions of ALEX:

When will I be able to access the ALEX version that reflects the 2019 benefit plans?
The 2019 version of ALEX will be available late September, prior to the ABE period, which will give you an opportunity to educate yourself regarding the 2019 benefit plans and rates.

Will I still be able to access the ALEX version that reflects the current 2018 benefit plans?
Yes, the 2018 version of ALEX will also be available for you to use even after the 2019 version of ALEX is released.

Will there be any major differences between the 2018 and 2019 versions of ALEX?
The 2019 version of ALEX will be nearly identical to the 2018 version. However, you may notice during ABE the only plans that will appear in the 2019 version of ALEX are:

  • The plans that allow you to make changes during the ABE period 
  • The plans that can be changed at any time

Once the ABE period has ended, the 2019 version of ALEX will be updated to include all benefit plans. These additional plans include: life insurance and Income Continuation Insurance (ICI).

How do I access ALEX?
Visit the ALEX landing page to get started. This page will be updated late September to include the 2019 version for your use!

Will ALEX be my only resource for ABE information?
No, ALEX is just one resource for ABE information. You may begin to review the 2019 benefit plan change information on the ABE website.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Reminder: Substantiate 2018 Flexible Spending Account Claims Timely

Employees currently enrolled in a Health Care or Limited Purpose Flexible Spending Account (FSA) for the 2018 plan year are reminded to provide documentation as required for FSA claims.

If you are currently participating in an FSA, review your account at to see if you have any claims that require documentation (referred to as unsubstantiated claims).

Under Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations, FSAs are a pre-tax benefit, and all payments from a Health Care or Limited Purpose FSA may require third party documentation (substantiation) unless the claim is automatically substantiated.

The FSA administrator, TASC, is able to auto-substantiate some (but not all) claims paid using the TASC debit card. If requested by TASC, you are REQUIRED to provide documentation to substantiate claims paid with the TASC debit card. This ensures the debit card was used for IRS approved items/services within the allowed time-frame.

Failure to provide documentation to TASC when requested may result in repayment by the employee for any unsubstantiated payments. Repayment is done by deducting money from the employee's paycheck on an after-tax basis until repayment is complete. Claims should be substantiated timely to avoid repayment.

Substantiation information can be found in the ERA Participant Guide. If you have questions, contact TASC at or 1-844-786-3974.

Source: UW System Human Resources

WRS Contribution Rates to Decrease in 2019

The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) has announced that contributions made by employees covered under the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) will decrease slightly for all employee types effective January 1, 2019. WRS contribution rates are set and adjusted annually.

The 2019 rate changes are primarily due to higher favorable WRS Trust Fund investment performance.

Contribution rates for UW System employees are determined by WRS employment category. Most UW employees are in the General/Teacher WRS category. High level administrators (chancellors, presidents, vice presidents, provosts) are in the Executive category. Employees whose main duties are related to law enforcement or the protection of the public (police officers, fire fighters) are in the Protective category.

2019 WRS Required Contribution Rates

with Social Security
  2018 2019 2018 2019
Employee Contribution 6.7% 6.55% 6.7% 6.55%
Employer Contribution 6.7% 6.55% 10.7% 10.55%
Total Contribution 13.4% 13.1% 17.4% 17.1%

The 2019 rates will apply to all paychecks in 2019; beginning January 2, 2019 for Faculty/Academic Staff and Limited Appointees paid monthly and January 3, 2019 for University Staff employees paid bi-weekly. As a reminder, WRS contributions are deducted on a pre-tax basis for state and federal tax purposes.

For More Information

Source: UW Service Center