Everything You Need to Know About Health Insurance

2017-2018 is a new year, with new health insurance prices and new administrative disappointments. For news on our campaign to improve NYU’s standards of healthcare, click here.

For our guide to navigating this (often messy) bureaucratic system, read on below:

The Basics:

Have you already been guaranteed health insurance through your funding package this year? Don’t have any dependents to insure? Then great! You can go eat some chips or hang out at the gym–you don’t have to do anything at all to be enrolled or to have your health insurance paid for.

If you aren’t in that lucky group, then welcome to union-negotiated health insurance subsidies! If you’re working in a union position you have access to cheap health insurance: NYU will cover 90% of the costs for your enrollment in the NYU Student Health Insurance Basic Plan for the semesters in which you are working; you just have to pay the remaining 10%. If you’re a Washington Square worker and you want a more comprehensive plan through NYU, no worries. You can upgrade, carry forward the Basic Plan discount, and pay the difference. (NYU Tandon has only one plan for students, which is the Basic plan).

How does this work?

  1. You need to enroll in a health insurance plan via the NYU/CHP website before September 30th. (If you don’t do this, but later really need to join the NYU plan due to changing life circumstances in your family, you still might be able to pull off a “special enrollment” under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Contact CHP Customer Service ((877) 373-1170) to see if that’s possible).
  2. When enrolling you’ll have the option to pick whether or not you’d like to buy insurance for the full year all at once (“the annual plan”) or semester by semester (“the two payment option”). We like the latter option ourselves because it’s a lot of money to pay up front (and  the union subsidy is only ever awarded one installment at a time).
  3. Whatever you picked, NYU will billed you for the full rate because their website is very poorly constructed and NYU so far has refused to fix this. This will shows up in your bursar account, but on a different schedule that the other charges you might find there. Although they appear on the same bill, your health insurance costs are not due at the same time as your tuition and fees.
  4. So, to break it down, if you chose the two installment plan, you’ll be billed for 100% of the Fall installment now and the Spring/Summer installment later in January. You don’t have to pay your incorrect bill in full right now. Instead, we recommend paying your 10% (plus the extra for Comprehensive if that’s what you bought) along with any tuition and fees and then forgetting about the bill. [Let’s do a bit of math together: At Washington Square your Fall installment will be either $1043 (Basic) or $1,609 (Comprehensive) so if you opt for the 2 installment plan you would pay only $104.30 or $670.30, respectively, right now. At Tandon your Spring/Summer installment was be $670 so you would pay only $67 right now].  So this is all to say that: 
    • You can do a bit of math now and pay only your tuition + fees + your anticipate health insurance costs now, or 
    • You can pay your tuition + fees + full health insurance costs and wait until NYU fixes the health insurance part of your bill later. (If you chose the single installment plan, then you could calculate your Fall subsidy and not pay that part, but you’ll still be stuck paying for Spring/Summer costs 2018 in full now and waiting for NYU to refund you in the new year.)
  5. If (a) math isn’t your thing and/or, (b) if the prospect of having an unpaid balance on your bursar account stresses you out no matter how much we promise you that this won’t have any negative repercussions, or (c) if you’ve already paid your bill in full before you found out that you had a union job or that your job had this benefit, then you’re stuck waiting for NYU to deduct 90% of the costs for Basic from your bill and refund what you over-paid. NYU will do this whenever its various bureaucratic parts communicate to each other’s satisfaction that yes, you are in fact working a union job and that yes, the university is legally obliged to pay for this cost. (Last year this didn’t happen until October). (Yes, that is ridiculous).
  6. If you paid a faulty bill in full, you’ll be given a refund at this point for 90% of Basic. If you haven’t paid the remaining health insurance part yet, please do so when your bill is corrected.
  7. If by now you’re convinced that NYU’s way of dealing with this situation is absurd, join us in advocating for a more humane and sensible way of billing workers

(Bonus step if you have dependent(s) to enroll): Wait until August 1st because NYU/CHP haven’t opened dependent enrollment yet. Because of course they haven’t….

But wait—there’s more union benefits:

Free Stu-Dent Dental Services!

GSOC student workers will also received complete Stu-Dent coverage, free of charge. There’s no enrollment for student workers; you just show up at NYU Dental and get free care. You may need to bring proof of employment during the first few weeks of the year while NYU compiles its list of graduate employees (but an honor’s system should also hold until then). Workers at Stu-Dent may tell you ominous tales about what will befall you if you are proven after the fact not to be a worker, but proceed confidently and all will be well. If you are a worker, please do not opt-in for dental care when enrolling for health insurance—if you’ve already done so, please email Stu-Dent for a refund. 

Access the Dependent Care Support Funds!

Graduate employees in union positions can access our dependent healthcare fund to help reduce the cost of dependent health insurance. Up to 75% of (Basic) dependent coverage could be reimbursed for your dependent health insurance expenses in both the Fall and in the Spring/Summer periods, if you’ve been a worker in that time. The exact breakdown will depend on how many people apply to the fund. This pool of money will grow every year during our contract and we heartily encourage workers to take advantage of it.

NB: NYU only pays out this fund AFTER the semester in question is over. So, resultantly, Spring/summer 2016 applications are due August 20th 2016, and the Fall 2017 deadline will likely be early January 2018. You can apply anytime though. If you’ve got your documentation in front of you now, why wait?

NB: There’s other benefits and supports out there for parents with kids under 6 or 12 years of age. Check out our Guide to Parental Benefits for the details. You can read about the union’s childcare fund here.

Cheap Dependent Rates for GSHIP Workers!

GSHIP is a fancy insurance plan that NYU includes in some grad student funding packages (mostly just GSAS PhDs). You can’t buy or enroll yourself in GSHIP, you can only be given it by the university. This perk has a disadvantage, however: if you have dependents that you’d like to enroll with NYU, they have no choice but the GSHIP plan and their costs are comparatively high.

Fortunately, the union’s negotiated a good work around: union workers with GSHIP can buy GSHIP coverage for their dependents for the cost of Basic. That means that you’d spend $2,754 rather than $4,066 annually for the same plan, just for being a union worker. This cost, like so many other factors for union workers, may not be represented in the enrollment website, however. As with workers purchasing their own health insurance coverage, we recommend that GSHIP union workers enroll their dependents now but do not pay their bills until they are corrected.

X for 1 Dependent Rates

OK, everyone gets this benefit whether you’re a union worker or not, but after we signed our contract NYU/CHP suddenly started offering flat rate dependent coverage. This adds significant value to the plans for families. So, regardless of the number of kids (+/- a partner) you have, you’ll pay the same as someone with only one dependent.

Access to the Employee Assistance Program!

If you or your dependents would benefit from some counseling, and the regular student health options aren’t available or a good fit, you and your dependents can access NYU’s Employee Assistance Program and talk with a counselor free of charge at any time. They offer a wide range of services for psychological, family, financial, and life management issues, with four free sessions per issue.

 

And here’s some common questions:

What If I’m Only Working in the Spring? The Summer?

If you aren’t working throughout the year, or don’t know if you’ll be working yet, we recommended that you to sign up and pay semester-by-semester (what NYU calls a “two-installment plan”) so that you don’t have to pay more than you owe. However, even if you did pay for everything up front in one annual bill, you will still get your semester’s reimbursement when HR crunches all the numbers midway through the semester in question.

Because of the way NYU/CHP package their health insurance plans, Spring workers will be awarded a subsidy for spring and summer at the start of the Spring semester. Workers who only work in the summer should get a rebate retroactively when they start working in the summer. However, NYU last summer arbitrarily decided that this should only be a partial refund—a position that is in no way supported by our contract and needs to be vigorously opposed. Many students who started on the job after April 1st this past semester are not currently being issued refunds at all. That isn’t right, and we have a big legal arbitration hearing coming up to try to force NYU to do the right thing. Join us in our campaign for healthcare equality!

What’s a Union Position Again?

All TA and GA positions and some RA positions, as well as adjunct PhD instructors before their 8th year, are included in the bargaining unit, and thus are entitled to union benefits. Graders, tutors and STEM RA positions (except Applied Psych) and GAs within the School of Medicine or Stern are specifically excluded, however. See Article I of our contract for the complete list, read through our FAQ, or contact a Steward if you’ve got questions.

I still haven’t received my refund from last semester!

Please double check your bursar account to make sure that you don’t have any spare credit sitting in there. Sometimes it can be easily overlooked, or it can be the case that the Bursar has your money and just won’t release it until you ask politely (WTF NYU?). Unfortunately, there are also a growing number of students that NYU has entirely shortchanged. If you worked in a previous semester and know that you haven’t got your refund yet, please contact us with the details of your situation, including your N#, when you were hired, and the nature of your position and we will fight together for your rights!

If you started work after April 1 this spring/summer, then you’re probably stuck in the in a “late semester hire” quagmire. NYU thinks that they don’t have to pay you anything, despite the fact that our contract holds that no, they definitely do. This is pretty dishonorable and we are working vigorously to oppose such measures and win retroactive compensation for everyone that’s run afoul of NYU’s cheap tactics so far. You can express you righteous indignation about this by joining our healthcare equality campaign.

Got Problems?

NYU makes A LOT of mistakes. If you have a problem with accessing services, or if you think that you aren’t being counted as a GSOC member when you are working in a union position, please contact a GSOC Steward for assistance. We’re eager to help you get the coverage you’re entitled to and advocate for the expansion of the contract’s terms as much as we can.

Thanks, and feel free to keep in touch!

GOSC-UAW

gsoc.comm@gmail.com