How are my Health and Supplemental Insurance benefits and costs established?

For many employees, health insurance benefits are important benefits offered by the UW System. Every year, we may see changes to the health and supplemental insurance programs even if the only change is to the premium. Every fall, during the Annual Benefits Enrollment (ABE) period, there is an opportunity to enroll (or dis-enroll) in the health and/or supplemental insurance programs or make changes to coverage levels and/or change benefit plans. Below is information on the process of establishing the annual health and supplemental insurance program options and costs.

  1. What is the State Group Health Insurance program?
    The State Group Health Insurance program is an employer-sponsored program offering group health insurance to employees of state agencies, UW System, UW Hospital and Clinics Authority and participating local government employers.

  2. Who administers the State Group Health Insurance Program?
    The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) and the Group Insurance Board (GIB) have statutory authority for program administration and oversight. All health plans follow GIB guidelines for eligibility and program requirements. The health plans all offer the same in-network benefit package called Uniform Benefits (as well as the option of electing Uniform Dental coverage for an additional cost) and annually compete in a complex process to determine the best premiums.

    The UW System does not determine the plan designs, premiums, employee premium contributions or which health insurance plan carriers are offered. Changes for 2019 are expected to be finalized and approved by the GIB on August 22, 2018.

  3. What is the Supplemental Insurance Program?
    The GIB also approves supplemental insurance plans, employee-pay-all group insurance plans that are offered via payroll deduction under the same authority as the State Group Health Insurance program. Dental and vision insurance are the two most popular supplemental insurance plans; both are offered to the same population of employees as the State Group Health Insurance program and available for employees to make changes to during ABE. The intent of the Supplemental Insurance Program is to complement the Uniform Benefits that are provided as a part of the State Group Health Insurance Program.

    The UW System does not determine the plan designs, premiums, or which supplemental insurance plans are offered. Changes to the Supplemental Insurance Program for 2019 were approved by the GIB on May 16, 2018. Information on the changes will be communicated this fall prior to ABE.

  4. Who decides health and supplemental insurance plan premiums?
    The health and supplemental insurance plans submit premium bids to the Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) each year for the following year. ETF reviews the bids and required claims data and takes recommendations to the Group Insurance Board (GIB). The GIB’s actuaries also review the bids, required claims data and ETF’s recommendations; then negotiations are conducted by ETF. The GIB must approve the premiums for each health and supplemental insurance plan.

    For the State Group Health Insurance program, while most employees do not pay the full premium, the full premium does impact the amount of the employee premium contribution. Each year, the monthly amount that employees are required to pay for health insurance is established by the State’s Division of Personnel Management (DPM). DPM determines the employee contribution towards premium based on the provisions in Wis. Stat. § 40.05 (4) (ag) and (ah). For most employees, the monthly premium contribution may not exceed 12 percent of the average premium cost of plans offered in each premium tier.

  5. Who decides which health insurance plan carriers are offered?
    Each health plan carrier decides if they want to participate in the State Group Health Insurance Program and determines the counties in which they will offer in-network providers. The health insurance plan carriers must meet strict contractual requirements and their participation is authorized annually by the GIB if they meet the required criteria. If a health insurance plan carrier leaves the program, its members must select a new plan during ABE.

  6. Who decides what benefits are covered under the State Group Health Insurance program?
    The GIB generally determines the coverage offered by the health plans; however, the program must also comply with applicable state and federal laws. The GIB has a fiduciary responsibility to administer the program in accordance with state statute. The GIB decisions are based on ETF recommendations, input from the GIB actuaries and other guidance.

  7. Who is on the GIB and what are the responsibilities of the GIB?
    The GIB is an eleven-member board that meets specified membership requirements. The GIB sets policy and oversees administration of the group health, life insurance and Income Continuation Insurance plans for state and UW employees and retirees and the group health and life insurance plans for local employers who choose to offer them. The Board may also provide other insurance plans, if employees pay the entire premium. For more information about the GIB, please click here.

Source: UW System HR

Supplemental Dental Plan Changes for 2019

Effective January 1, 2019, there will be changes to the supplemental benefit plans. Most of the changes are specific to the supplemental dental insurance plans; therefore, this article focuses on the supplemental dental plans.

How do the upcoming supplemental plan changes affect current participants?

Dental WI and EPIC Benefits+ will no longer administer any supplemental insurance plans in 2019.

Employees currently enrolled in any of the plans with Dental WI and/or EPIC Benefits+ will be required to make a new dental plan election during the Annual Benefits Enrollment (ABE) period, October 1 – 26, 2018 (if they wish to have supplemental dental coverage in 2019).

Why are changes being made to the supplemental dental insurance plans?

Changes are being made to reduce benefit overlap, streamline the claims filing process for you and your dentist and to reduce the overall complexity of dental plan options. Due to these changes, you should be able to more easily determine which supplemental plan is best for you and your family.

Who will administer the supplemental dental plans in 2019?

Delta Dental will administer the supplemental dental insurance plans in 2019. Since Uniform Dental is already currently administered by Delta Dental, this will ensure that the plans do not duplicate coverage (i.e. preventive care will only be covered by Uniform Dental).

Will I be able to enroll in more than one supplemental dental plan in 2019?

No. There will be two supplemental dental insurance plans offered in 2019, the Select Plan and the Select Plus Plan; however, in 2019, you will only be able to enroll in one supplemental dental plan.

What are the main differences between the two supplemental dental plans offered in 2019?

The main differences between the plans are premium cost, annual maximums, the coinsurance amounts and whether orthodontia is covered.

What are the main enhancements to the supplemental dental plans for 2019?

One of the main enhancements is that there will not be any waiting periods before supplemental dental benefits take effect. Another enhancement is that the Select Plus Plan will cover adult orthodontia at 50% up to a lifetime maximum of $1,500; whereas in the past, some of the supplemental dental plans included orthodontia coverage; however, it was limited to dependents up to the age of 19.

Are there any dental services that were covered by the supplemental plans through Dental WI and/or EPIC Benefits+ that will no longer be covered by the supplemental plans through Delta Dental?

Neither of the supplemental dental plans with Delta Dental will cover preventive services; however, preventive services are covered by the Uniform Dental plan with Delta Dental.

To enroll in the Uniform Dental plan, employees must be enrolled in a State Group Health Insurance plan. If enrolled in a State Group Health Insurance plan, employees have the option of enrolling in the Uniform Dental plan.

Additional information regarding 2019 supplemental benefit plan changes, including premium rates, will be communicated during ABE, October 1 – 26, 2018. Please contact your human resources office with immediate questions.

Source: UW System HR

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

Timesheet Offers New and Improved Features

Effective July 29, a  new  timesheet for University Staff-Non-Exempt, University Staff-Temporary, Monthly paid employees who report Affordable Care Act (ACA) hours, and Student Hourly offers new and improved features.. Employees who record their time via web clock will continue to do so, and when they view their completed timesheets, they will see the new format.

Though this change is happening in the middle of a pay period, employees can rest assured that all data entered on a timesheet during the first week of the pay period will appear seamlessly in the new timesheet format.

User friendly and more efficient features will create a better experience for employees who complete and view the timesheet. Some features/changes will include:

  • New alert icons -- view status of submitted time/absence requests right on the timesheet.
  • Columns reordered, renamed, and condensed -- Users will see clearer labels for shift in and out and break in and out. The add/remove (plus/minus) buttons and the comp time column will be moved. These and other changes will make the most used components of the timesheet visible without scrolling.
  • New \'copy from previous period\' button -- will allow users to copy hours from the previous pay period.
  • Ability to delete multiple rows at once
  • Request, edit and cancel absences on the new timesheet

Review resources for completing the new timesheet.

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

Faculty, Academic Staff and Limited Appointees: Option to Bank Vacation in an Annual Leave Reserve Account

Faculty, Academic Staff and Limited Appointees (FA/AS/LI) with a 12-month appointment are eligible to bank vacation into an Annual Leave Reserve Account (ALRA) after they have completed 10 fiscal years of employment. The ALRA account may also be referred to as Banked Leave account.


  • Employee completes 10 fiscal years in May, 2018.
  • July 1, 2018 (beginning of 11th fiscal year) employee is eligible to accrue vacation to be banked.
  • July 1, 2019 (beginning of 12th fiscal year) employee is offered the option of banking up to 40 hours of vacation or vacation carryover as of 6/30/18.

Note: Employee is eligible to bank up to 80 hours per year of vacation in ALRA after completing 25 years of employment.

How is Vacation Allocated?

FA/AS/LI vacation is allocated on a fiscal year basis. Unused vacation can be carried over into the following fiscal year, but must be used by the end of that fiscal year or it will be lost.

Your July 2018 Leave Report

Your July Leave Report will indicate how many hours of unused vacation you are eligible to bank into ALRA. You are allowed to bank any unused vacation or vacation carryover as of June 30, 2018 (up to the allowable hours). If your institution uses Self-Service, you may be able to convert hours into your ALRA account via Self-Service with your July leave reporting. Check with your Payroll Coordinator to see if you may use the Self-Service option.

If you meet the Eligibility Requirements for ALRA:

  • You may bank vacation in an ALRA account to use at a future date (banked hours do not expire). You may accumulate up to 40 hours per fiscal year in your ALRA account after completing 10 fiscal years of employment and up to 80 hours after completing 25 fiscal years of employment. There is no limit to the total number of hours (balance) in your ALRA account.
  • With your supervisor\'s approval, you may use ALRA at any time. ALRA can be used in any circumstance in which you are allowed to use paid leave.
  • If you terminate employment, any unused ALRA will be paid to you at your current wage rate as a lump sum payment.
  • Banking Schedule (the amount of leave that can be banked is prorated if your appointment is part-time)
    • You are eligible to bank up to 40 hours of vacation into ALRA per year after completing 10 fiscal years of employment. Option to bank is the fiscal year following eligibility. (See example above)
    • You are eligible to bank up to 80 hours of vacation into ALRA per year after completing 25 fiscal years of employment. Option to bank is the fiscal year following eligibility. (See example above)
    • If you elect to bank hours to ALRA, the vacation hours you want to bank will first come from any remaining vacation carryover you had as of June 30, 2018. If you allocated more unused vacation to ALRA than you had as vacation carryover, the additional hours to be banked will come from your vacation balance as of June 30.

If you have questions, please contact your Payroll Coordinator.

Source: UW Service Center

ALEX: Your Personalized Benefits Counselor

Are you aware that you have access to ALEX, your personalized benefits counselor all year round?

ALEX is an interactive benefits decision support tool that will help you understand the benefit plans and options that are offered to you and your family. Whether you’re a new or long term employee, ALEX is available to you at anytime to learn more about the benefits that are offered or that you have selected. Even if you don’t have a current enrollment opportunity, ALEX can be a helpful tool.

ALEX has been enhanced since the initial implementation to include all benefit plans (other than just the plans that the Annual Benefits Enrollment (ABE) period focuses on). These additional plans include: life insurance, Income Continuation Insurance (ICI), the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS), the Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA) and Wisconsin Deferred Compensation (WDC).

ALEX currently reflects the 2018 benefit plans and premium amounts; however, will be updated at the end of September 2018 to reflect the benefit plan changes (if applicable) for 2019.

The 2019 Annual Benefits Enrollment (ABE) period will be held October 1, 2018 – October 26, 2018.

We hope that you will make it a habit to visit ALEX with your basic benefit questions!

Source: UW System Human Resources

Saving 1% More

It is recommended Americans save 15% of their annual income for retirement – are you?

If you are, great!

If you’re not, 15% probably seems 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).

Your Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) benefit is a great tool in saving for retirement, but a UW TSA account can also help.

If you already have a UW TSA account 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 so by visiting Counseling Sessions under the Education section of the UW TSA website.

If you do not have an account, there is no time like the present to sign up! Visit the UW Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA) 403(b) website for information on how to enroll.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Summer Prepay Deductions: Continuing Your Insurance Coverage During the Summer Months

What are Summer Prepay Deductions?

If you are a 9-month employee who will be returning to UW employment in the fall of 2018, or a 12-month employee who has a contract that does not include work for one or more summer months, then you had additional insurance premiums deducted from your March 30, May 1 and/or June 1 paychecks to continue your insurance coverage through the summer months. These additional insurance premiums, taken along with your regular monthly insurance deductions, are referred to as ‘summer prepay deductions.’

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

If you did not have prepayments taken and are returning in the fall, contact your human resources office immediately. If your insurance premiums are not collected through the summer prepay deduction process, you must be set up in benefit billing by your human resource office (benefit administrator) in order for a bill to be 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 benefit billing, a bill will not be generated. If you do not pay for your insurance, it will be cancelled due to non-payment.

Verifying Your Summer Prepay Deductions

Check your spring earnings statements to verify if you had summer prepay deductions taken from your paychecks. Summer prepay deductions appear as a lump sum with all pre-tax deductions added together and identified as ‘PREBTX’ and all post-tax deductions added together under ‘PREATX.’ PREBTX stands for before tax or pre-tax and ‘PREATX’ stands for after tax or post-tax.

In the fall, your regular insurance premium deductions will resume as payroll deductions starting with your October 1 paycheck.

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 should complete a new health insurance application 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 2018 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

Tax Law Changes for Parking Fees, Vanpool, and Bus Passes

Due to tax liability implications of the Tax Cuts and Job Act passed by the Federal Government effective January 1, 2018, the UW System will need to change pre-tax payroll deductions for parking, vanpool, and bus passes. Starting with payrolls dated on or after June 1, 2018, these fees will be deducted on a post-tax basis for UW System employees.

  • Employees paid monthly, will see the post-tax deductions made on the June 1 paycheck (for the pay period of May 1 – May 31)
  • Employees paid biweekly, will see the post-tax deductions on the June 7 paycheck (for the pay period of May 13 – May 26).

Because of the federal tax law changes, UW employees will not be able to create Parking and Transit accounts, as administered by TASC. If you have an existing Parking and Transit account, funds cannot be added for payrolls dated on or after June 1, 2018. Any funds withheld prior to June 1 are still available to be used for parking and transit purposes until exhausted, or until you become ineligible for the plan(s).

The changes to the Parking & Transit accounts administered by TASC do not affect any other plans administered by TASC (i.e. Flexible Spending accounts and Health Savings accounts).

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

Source: UW Service Center

WRS News Online, May 2018

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