Everything You Need to Know About Health Insurance

2016-2017 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 in 2016-2017, 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 have enrolled in a health insurance plan via the NYU/CHP website in the Fall. If you didn’t do that, you 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. Way back in the Fall you would have had 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 you’ll only ever get subsidized one installment at a time).
  3. Whatever you picked, NYU’s website would have billed you for the full rate because it’s very poorly constructed and NYU so far has refused to fix this.
  4. So if you chose the two installment plan, you should be getting a Spring/Summer bill real soon. In this case, you don’t have to pay your incorrect bill in full. Instead, we recommend paying your 10% (plus the extra for Comprehensive if that’s what you bought)  along with your tuition and fees and then forgetting about it. [Let’s do a bit of math together: At Washington Square your Spring/Summer installment would be either $1,654 (Basic) or $2,558 (Comprehensive) so if you opt for the 2 installment plan you would pay only $165.40 or $1,069.40. At Tandon your Spring/Summer installment would be $1,051 so you would pay only $105.10].  So you can do a bit of math now and pay your tuition + fees + your anticipate health insurance costs now, or you can pay your tuition + fees now and wait until NYU fixes the health insurance part of your bill later. Tuition and fees are often semi-publicly revealed to be due at different times, which is as far as NYU has gone to addressing this hot mess. We don’t have the adjusted due dates yet, but we’ll post them here as soon as they come in. If you chose the single installment plan, then you’ve already paid for all your health insurance in the Fall, and now you’re stuck waiting for NYU to refund you.
  5. NYU will eventually deduct the 90% of the costs for Basic from your bill when 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. (In the past few semesters, this took more than a month). (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 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.

 

Here’s some more 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 2016 deadline will likely be early January 2017. 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. 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 $2,697 rather than $3,982 annually per dependent 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.

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 right away. 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. 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 old Fall refund!

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!

NYU claims that they’ve already refunded everyone who started work between Sep 1 – Oct 30th. However, there are many, many errors and exceptions.  If you started on the job during that period but are still missing your cash (and the Bursar isn’t hoarding it, inexplicably), please email us with your (1) start date, (2) job title, (3) worksite/department, and (4) N# so we can follow up on your case with NYU on your behalf. This process does take a while, unfortunately 🙁

If you started work after this point, 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