HR, Payroll and Benefits News

ALEX: Your Personalized Benefits Counselor

Have you visited ALEX to help you make the most of your benefit plans?

ALEX is an interactive benefits decision support tool that helps you understand the benefit plans offered to you and your family. Whether you’re a new employee or have been here a while, ALEX is available at any time.

ALEX includes all benefit plans available to eligible employees:

  • Health Insurance
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • Dental Insurance
  • Vision Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Income Continuation Insurance (ICI)
  • Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)
  • Health Savings Accounts (HSA)
  • Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS)
  • Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA) 403(b)
  • Wisconsin Deferred Compensation (WDC) 457

ALEX currently reflects the 2019 benefit plans and premiums. The tool will be updated this fall to reflect the benefit changes for 2020.

The 2020 Annual Benefits Enrollment (ABE) period will be September 30, 2019 – October 25, 2019. As we get closer to the ABE additional information will be provided.

We hope you will make it a habit to visit ALEX with your benefit questions.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Mid-Year Benefits Check-Up

Are family responsibilities, extra-curricular activities or work-related projects keeping you busy? With so much going on, it can be difficult to keep track of your preventive care or remember what resources are available to help manage your benefits. With that in mind, this article lists several reminders and tips to help you manage your benefits.

Health Insurance

  • Preventive health services are provided at no cost under the State Group Health Insurance plans. Review the services and schedule your preventive visit with your doctor.
  • If you are enrolled in State Group Health Insurance, you and your spouse (if covered) are eligible for the Well Wisconsin Incentive of $150 by completing three requirements by October 11, 2019. Get started today!

Pharmacy Benefits

  • Did you know that you can obtain up to a 90-day supply of some medications for just two copays through the mail order service? Visit the Pharmacy Benefits webpage for additional information regarding the various cost savings pharmacy benefits programs.
  • Create an online account with Navitus to view your medication history, locate participating pharmacies and/or compare costs of prescriptions at different pharmacies.

Dental Insurance
Did you know that oral diseases have been linked to diabetes, heart disease and stroke?

  • Diagnostic and preventive services are covered by the Uniform Dental Benefits at 100% if you are enrolled in State Group Health Insurance with dental. Find an in-network dentist and schedule a preventive visit for you and your covered dependents.

Vision Insurance
Eye exams can detect common vision problems and eye diseases that often have no early warning signs.

  • If you are enrolled in State Group Health Insurance, you and your covered dependents are eligible for an annual eye exam. Locate an in-network provider and schedule your appointment. Note: Out-of-pocket expenses will apply depending on your health insurance plan selection.
  • If you are covered by the vision insurance plan, you are eligible for additional vision benefits such as glasses and/or contact lenses. Locate an in-network provider and schedule your vision appointment today!

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)

  • View your FSA balance and file claims timely with TASC (the plan administrator). The last day to incur expenses is December 31, 2019.
  • Up to $500 will carry over to the next plan year (Health Care and Limited Purpose FSA’s only).
  • Login to your TASC account to determine if you have outstanding health care or limited purpose FSA claims that require documentation (substantiation). If so, substantiate them timely.

Health Savings Accounts (HSA)

  • If you are enrolled in the high deductible health plan, view your HSA balance online through your TASC account.
  • Furthermore, if you have outstanding balances with your health, dental and/or vision providers for qualifying health, dental and/or vision expenses, you may use your HSA debit card to pay those out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Since the HSA allows for a triple tax advantage (contributions, distributions and investment earnings), increase your HSA contribution anytime by submitting an HSA Contribution Change Form.

Retirement Savings Programs
Are you on track saving for your future? Below are the retirement savings programs available to you through the UW System.

  • Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS)
  • Tax-Sheltered Annuity 403(b) Program
  • Wisconsin Deferred Compensation (WDC) Program

Review the information and enroll or make changes to your retirement savings contributions today!

Remember, ALEX can help you understand the benefit plans offered to you through the UW System or visit the Employee Benefits webpage to learn more!

Source: UW System Human Resources

Main Benefit Plan Changes for 2020

Effective January 1, 2020, there will be four main benefit plan changes:

  • Preventive Dental Insurance (new plan)
  • Accident Insurance (new plan)
  • Vendor Change (TASC to ConnectYourCare)
  • Security Health Plan (no longer available)

Additional information regarding 2020 benefit plan changes (including premiums) will be communicated closer to the Annual Benefits Enrollment (ABE) period (September 30 – October 25, 2019).

Preventive Dental Insurance

Currently, preventive dental services are only offered under the State Group Health Insurance Plan with Uniform Dental. For 2020, a standalone Preventive Dental Insurance Plan through Delta Dental will be available to employees who either waive the State Group Health Insurance Plan or choose the State Group Health Insurance Opt-Out Incentive. This means all benefits eligible employees will have access to preventive dental services in 2020.

Note:  The Supplemental Dental Plans will continue to be available in 2020. These plans provide coverage for major services such as crowns and implants.

Accident Insurance

In 2020, an Accident Insurance Plan will be available to eligible employees. The plan provides a cash payment directly to you in the event of an accident. Covered accidents may include injuries, emergency care, hospital care, surgery and an accidental death & dismemberment* benefit. The cash payment amount differs based on the severity of the accident. You may use the cash for anything you’d like to help provide some financial protection when the unexpected happens.

*The Accident Insurance Plan includes an accidental death & dismemberment benefit. You may enroll in both, the Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) Plan and the new Accident Insurance plan.

Vendor Change (TASC to ConnectYourCare)

The Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), Dependent Day Care Account and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) will be administered by ConnectYourCare (CYC). TASC will no longer be the administrator as of December 31, 2019.

How will the vendor change affect current participants?

Communications will be sent to current participants prior to ABE to explain the transition from TASC to CYC. Additionally, the 2020 Vendor Change page will be updated to keep current participants informed of communications, key dates and who to contact with questions.

Note:  Employees currently enrolled in an FSA and/or HSA that want to participate in the plans in 2020 are required to re-enroll during the ABE period, September 30 – October 25, 2019.

Security Health Plan (no longer available)

Security Health Plan–Central and Security Health Plan–Valley will no longer be available effective January 1, 2020. Resources will be provided closer to the ABE period to help affected employees select a new health insurance carrier during the ABE period.

Additional information regarding 2020 benefit plan changes and premiums will be communicated during ABE. Please contact your human resources office with immediate questions.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Which Health Insurance Plan is Right for You?

During the Annual Benefits Enrollment (ABE) period (September 30 - October 25, 2019), you will have an opportunity to select your health insurance plan for coverage effective January 1, 2020. It is important to select the plan design and health insurance carrier that best fits the needs of you and your family. To help you prepare for ABE, this article highlights what is the same and what is different between High-Deductible Health Plans and Non-HDHP health plans.

What is the same for the HDHP and the Non-HDHP Health Plans?

  • In-network preventive services are covered at 100%.
  • Coverage for federally required preventive drugs at 100%.
  • Both have a deductible (this is the amount you pay before the plan pays).
  • In-network coinsurance is 10% (this is the amount you pay for specific services; the plan pays the remaining 90%).
  • In-network providers will provide lower out-of-pocket expenses than out-of-network providers.
  • Both allow participation in the Well Wisconsin program to earn $150 wellness incentive.
  • Both provide an opportunity to enroll in Uniform Dental Benefits.
  • Both offer out-of-network coverage through the Access HDHP and Access Non-HDHP Health Plans. Due to out-of-network coverage, Access plans are more expensive.

What is different between the HDHP and the Non-HDHP Health Plans?

  • HDHPs have lower premiums (the amount deducted from your paycheck).
    • Premiums are required regardless of whether you use your health insurance.
  • HDHPs include a Health Savings Account (HSA) to help you prepare for out-of-pocket expenses. An HSA provides three separate tax benefits:
    • Contributions are tax-deductible.
    • HSA assets grow tax-free (through interest or investing).
    • Withdrawals for qualified medical, dental and/or vision expenses are not taxed.
  • HDHPs include an employer contribution to the HSA (up to $750 for single coverage, $1,500 for family) which remains in your HSA until you use it.
  • Non-HDHP Health Plans have a deductible for medical services and a separate deductible for pharmacy benefits; HDHPs have a deductible that includes medical services and pharmacy benefits.
  • Non-HDHP Health Plans have lower deductibles and out-of-pocket limits (the most you pay per calendar year for covered services; includes copayments, deductible and coinsurance).
    • You only pay out-of-pocket costs when you use your health insurance

How prepared are you and your family for expected/unexpected out-of-pocket expenses? 

Review the expenses you have incurred so far in 2019 for health, dental and vision services to help you prepare for 2020. Some of the ways you can save for expected and/or unexpected health, dental and vision out-of-pocket expenses include:

  • With a HDHP you may use the HSA (medical, dental and/or vision expenses) or Limited Purpose FSA (dental, vision and post-medical deductible expenses) to set aside pre-tax earnings to help pay for qualifying out-of-pocket expenses.
  • With a Non-HDHP Health Plan you may set aside earnings in a Health Care Flexible Spending Account (pre-tax) for out-of-pocket expenses.


Source: UW System Human Resources

ETF Launches New Website

The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) has launched a new website. ETF is the administrator of the Wisconsin Retirement System program and some of the other benefits programs available to UW System employees.

For more information, see the ETF news article regarding their new website.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Are you enrolled in a Health Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA)?

The Health Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and the Limited Purpose Health Care FSA provide you with an opportunity to pay certain out-of-pocket expenses with tax-free dollars. Since these are spending accounts, the funds in the accounts are intended to be spent on eligible expenses. This article is a reminder for you to use your FSA funds.

Health Care FSA Eligible Expenses include:

  • Medical
  • Dental
  • Vision

Limited Purpose Health Care FSA Eligible Expenses include:

  • Medical (post-deductible only)
  • Dental
  • Vision

Once you have incurred your eligible expenses, determine how to pay for them. In most situations, your Health Care FSA debit card (from the Health Care FSA administrator, TASC) will suffice at the point of sale or service. However, there are a few options if you need to submit your FSA claims manually or substantiate a claim made using your Health Care debit card:

For efficient processing, remember to include the appropriate IRS required supporting documentation with your claim(s) submission. If TASC needs more information to substantiate your claim(s), TASC will contact you directly.

Carry Over Reminder: Up to $500 of unused funds in your Health Care or Limited Purpose FSA will carry over into the following year (even if you do not enroll in the FSA for the following year). Unused funds greater than $500 on March 31 will be forfeited.

For questions, contact TASC at 1-844-786-3947 or

Additional resources may also be found on the UW System Employee Benefits website.

Source: UW System Human Resources

WRS Contribution Rates to Increase in 2020

The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) recently announced that the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) employee and employer contribution rates will increase slightly effective January 1, 2020. WRS rates are evaluated and adjusted annually.

The slight increase is due to lower than expected Core Trust Fund investment performance and economic assumption changes that were approved by the ETF Board in December, 2018.

Contribution increase and decrease fluctuations are considered normal for retirement systems like the WRS that pre-fund retirement benefits. For example, WRS contribution rates in 2019 were lowered due to favorable investment performance.

UW System employee contribution rates are determined by employment category. Most UW employees are in the General/Teacher/Executive category. Employees with law enforcement or public protection duties (police officers, fire fighters) are in the Protective category.

2020 WRS Required Contribution Rates

with Social Security
  2019 2020 2019 2020
Employee Contribution 6.55% 6.75% 6.55% 6.75%
Employer Contribution 6.55% 6.75% 10.55% 11.65%
Total Contribution 13.10% 13.50% 17.10% 18.40%

The 2020 contribution rates will apply to all paychecks paid in 2020; beginning with the January 2, 2020 paycheck for Faculty, Academic Staff and Limited Appointees paid monthly, and the January 2, 2020 paycheck for University staff paid bi-weekly. As a reminder, WRS contributions are taken on a pre-tax basis for state and federal tax purposes.

For more information, visit the WRS webpage on the UW System Employee Benefits website.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Submit Fiscal Year 2018-19 Leave Reports by September 2019

Faculty, Academic Staff and Limited appointees who have an active leave-eligible appointment are required to submit a leave report each month, whether or not leave is used. This is a reminder that all Leave Reports for fiscal year July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019 must be submitted by September 2019.

Failure to submit all leave reports for the 2018-19 fiscal year by September 2019 will result in a reduction of employee sick leave hours. Even one unsubmitted leave report may reduce an employee’s sick leave balance. To review this policy:

Leave reports may be submitted electronically via the MyUW portal. Log into the MyUW portal for UW-Madison or for all other UW System institutions. Paper leave reports may also be submitted. Visit the Time and Absence Help Pages for assistance with reporting leave.

If you have questions, contact your Institutional Leave Administrator.

Source: UW Service Center

UW-Shared Services 'Look and Feel' Coming to MyUW

As an employee at one of the UW institutions, you are accustomed to using the MyUW portal to access various services related to your employment. Whether that is your timesheet, your earnings statements, your benefits enrollments or your personal information, the portal provides a ‘one-stop-shop’ for important information and tools that help enhance your experience of employment at the UW.

What you may not know is that much of what appears on the portal, and some of the employment-related email messages you receive, are provided by the UW Service Center. And what you probably don’t know is that the UW Service Center is now part of a brand-new organization – UW-Shared Services.

UW-Shared Services was created, as part of UW System President Ray Cross’s Commitment to Operational Reform and Excellence (CORE) initiative. UW-Shared Services will create opportunities for, greater efficiency and better service by standardizing, consolidating and streamlining administrative processes and services. More information about UW-Shared Services can be found on our website:

So, if you see some changes to the ‘look and feel’ of resources you access on the portal, don’t be alarmed. You might see some new colors, or some new fonts, on the pages you visit – but the services you’ve grown to rely on will still be there!

Here’s an example of what you might see in the future: UW Shared Services, University of Wisconsin logo

Source: UW Service Center

Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance

Did you know you can enroll, change or cancel coverage in the Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) insurance plan at any time?

The AD&D insurance plan offers affordable coverage in case of accidental death or dismemberment to UW employees and dependents who meet eligibility requirements. You can elect single or family (spouse/domestic partner and eligible children) coverage ranging from $25,000 to $500,000.

Benefits may be payable if you have an accident that results in loss of life, sight, speech, hearing, loss or use of certain limbs and/or permanent and total disability. The plan also includes travel assistance coverage through Zurich Travel Assist and identity theft coverage through CyberScout LifeStages Identity Management.

More Information on the AD&D plan is available on the UW System Employee Benefits website: Accidental Death & Dismemberment. To enroll, change, or cancel coverage, complete an Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance application. Return the completed application to your human resources office. Enrollments and changes in coverage are effective the first of the month on or following receipt of your application.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Invest for College With Edvest

Saving for post-high school education may seem daunting, but with Edvest, Wisconsin’s 529 College Savings Plan, you can start making small contributions today for 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). Distributions from Edvest funds are exempt from federal income tax when used for qualified expenses. You may have contributions to Edvest allocated from your paycheck as a direct deposit. Payroll deduction is not available.

Any individual 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 System Human Resources

Summer Prepay Deductions: Continuing Insurance Coverage While on Summer Break

What are Summer Prepay Deductions?
If you are a 9-month employee returning to UW employment in the fall of 2019, or a 12-month employee with a contract that does not include work for one or more summer months, then additional insurance premiums should have been deducted from your April 1, May 1 and/or May 31 paychecks to continue your insurance coverage through the summer months. These additional insurance premiums are referred to as summer prepay deductions and are taken along with your regular monthly insurance deductions.

You must be expected to either return for the fall 2019 semester or continue employment in a summer service/summer session appointment to continue benefits coverage during the summer contract break.

Note: Employees in the United States working on a Visa, MUST maintain health insurance coverage during the summer months, or risk losing Visa eligibility. If you have questions about this requirement, contact your human resources office.

Confirming Your Summer Prepay Deductions
Check your spring 2019 earnings statements to verify if you had summer prepay deductions taken from your paychecks. Summer prepay deductions appear as a lump sum on earnings statements.

Deductions taken pre-tax (most medical-related premiums and a portion of State Group Life Insurance premiums) will be added together under ‘Prebtx’ and deductions taken post-tax (most life insurance premiums) will be added together under ‘Preatx.’ Regular benefit deductions for the month will continue to be listed under the plan name.

In the fall, 9-month employees’ regular insurance premium deductions will resume on the October 1, 2019 paycheck. Regular insurance premium deductions for 12-month employees will resume upon return from their summer work break.

What if I Did Not Have Summer Prepay Deductions Taken?
If you did not have summer prepay deductions taken and are returning in fall 2019, contact your human resources office immediately. If your insurance premiums are not collected through summer prepay deductions, you must be set up in benefits billing by your human resource office so a bill is generated for you.

Once your bill is generated, you must remit timely premium payments to continue your insurance coverage. If you do not take the steps to set up benefits billing, a bill will not be generated. If you do not pay for your insurance, it will be cancelled due to non-payment.

What Happens if You Have a ‘Status Change’ During the Summer?
Are you getting married this summer, adopting a baby, terminating employment? If you anticipate a status change during the summer, contact your human resources office immediately about the impact to your insurance benefits.

For example, if you are getting married and need to change from single to family health insurance coverage, you must submit a new health insurance application to your human resources office within 30 days of the date of your marriage. Your new spouse (and family) will be covered as of the date of the marriage. The new rate will be deducted from your prepayments according to the new level of coverage, and you may have to pay an additional portion of the premium if the coverage increases.

If your anticipated fall 2019 employment status changes, refunds may be issued for premiums paid beyond your coverage end date. Your coverage will end at the end of the month in which your employment terminates.

If you will be terminating employment, and will not return in the fall, contact your human resources office immediately to determine when your insurance coverage will end.

If you have questions, contact your human resources office.

Source: UW Service Center

Faculty, Academic Staff and Limited Appointees May Bank Unused Vacation for Future Use

Faculty, Academic Staff and Limited Appointees (FAASLI), with a 12-month appointment, are eligible to bank unused vacation after they have completed 10 fiscal years (July 1 through June 30) of employment. The Paid Leave Bank is also refer to as Banked Leave and is formerly known as Annual Leave Reserve Account (ALRA).

Twelve-month FAASLI are allocated vacation on a fiscal year basis. While they can carry unused vacation into the following fiscal year, the vacation must be used by the end of that fiscal year, or it will be lost. The option to bank unused vacation is a way to save vacation for future use.

How Much Vacation Can I Bank?
Twelve-month FAASLI are eligible to bank up to 40 hours of vacation per fiscal year after completing 10 fiscal years of employment, and up to 80 hours of vacation per fiscal year after completing 25 years of employment. The amount of vacation that can be banked is prorated for part-time employees.

There is no limit to the total number of hours (balance) that can be saved in the Paid Leave Bank and the hours do not expire.

When banking unused vacation, first the unused vacation allocation will come from any vacation carryover balance that you might have at the end of the fiscal year (June 30). If you bank more unused vacation than you had as vacation carryover, the additional hours to be banked will come from your vacation balance as of June 30.

When Can I Use The Vacation In My Paid Leave Bank?
With your supervisor's approval, you may use the vacation in your Paid Leave Bank at any time and it can be used in any circumstance in which you are allowed to use paid leave.

What If I Terminate Employment?
If you terminate employment any unused banked leave will be paid to you at your current wage rate.

To View Eligible Paid Leave Bank Hours
If you have a Paid Leave Bank account, you may view your balance by logging in to the MyUW portal for UW System institutions or for UW-Madison. Launch the Time and Absence app and click on the Leave Balances tab.

To review the vacation policies, see:

If you have questions, please contact your human resources office.

Source: UW Service Center

Earn Your $150 Well Wisconsin Incentive

Employees and spouses currently enrolled in the State Group Health Insurance program are eligible for the $150 Well Wisconsin incentive. The incentive program is administered by StayWell.

Complete the following three activities to reach your health and well-being goals and earn the $150 incentive:

  • StayWell health assessment
  • Health screening and submit the results to StayWell
  • StayWell Well-Being activity

In order to receive the incentive for 2019, activities must be completed by October 11, 2019.

Visit the StayWell portal at to complete the health assessment, to get a list of Well-Being activities, and to schedule a health screening. You may also contact your institution’s benefit office for upcoming health screening dates and locations.

Once you complete all three activities, be sure to claim your incentive by October 25, 2019 by visiting the StayWell portal. You may elect to have the incentive instantly sent to you via email, or have a gift card mailed to your home address. The incentive is considered taxable income.

StayWell will send emails and home mailers throughout the year with information about the program. For additional details visit or contact the StayWell HelpLine at (800) 821-6591.

Health information, including responses to the health assessment, are protected by federal law and will never be shared with The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF), the State Group Health Insurancep Program or your employer.

Source: UW System Human Resources

New Summer Leave Reporting Process Implemented June 2, 2019

A new, simplified summer leave reporting process was implemented June 2 for 9-month Faculty, Academic Staff and Limited Appointees (FAASLI) who have a Summer Session or Summer Service position.

Nine-month FAASLI who are employed over the summer months are required to complete monthly summer leave reports even if no leave was taken during this time period. Failure to report leave during the summer will result in a sick leave reduction. Refer to UPS Operational Policy: BN 3 Sick Leave (section 4.G.(3) and (7) for additional information.

To access the new leave reporting process, Log into the MyUW System portal. Launch the Time and Absence app and click on the new tab: Summer Appointment Leave Reporting. Note: All monthly employees will see the new tab even if they do not have a Summer Session or Summer Service position. If an employee without a summer appointment clicks on the new tab, it will simply indicate that no Summer Session/Service found. Twelve month FAASLI should continue to report all of their leave via the Request Absence tab.

Highlights of the simplified summer leave reporting process include:

  • One screen to record either sick leave taken or no leave was taken
  • Elimination of the need to select a specific job for entry purposes
  • Ability to enter summer leave beyond the summer period

Reference the tipsheet, Enter Summer Leave, for instructions on how to enter leave for the summer. If you have questions, contact your Institution Leave Administrator.

Source: UW Service Center

Employee Assistance Program Webinars

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP), administered by FEI, provides UW employees and members of their household with confidential resources to address personal and/or work-related concerns. EAP services are offered at no cost to employees.

The 2019 Monthly Webinar Series is open for registration. Click here for webinar information and registration.

August 2019 Webinar: Put Your Compensation to Work

Date and Time: Wednesday, August 21, 2019 - 11:00am to 12:00pm Central Daylight Time

Description: During benefits enrollment, it's easy to make the same benefit choices as last year - but the easy way might not be the best way. Take full advantage of the employee benefits available to you by uncovering "hidden" compensation opportunities you may not know about.

September 2019 Webinar: The Effects of Loneliness and Social Isolation

Date and Time: Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - 11:00am to 12:00pm Central Daylight Time

Description: Did you know that most lonely individuals are married, live with others and are not clinically depressed? Join us to learn how loneliness and social isolation can impact our health and longevity. Using a brain science perspective, we'll discuss the connection between loneliness and increased health risks including suicide.

Webinar Registration: Registration is required. Click here to register. Follow the individual links on each webinar for registration.  Note: Employees must attend a webinar on their own time or consult with their supervisor for approval to attend.

Source: UW System Human Resources

WRS News Online, May 2019

External link: