Health Care for Scholars
Due to the high cost of health care in the United States, international scholars are strongly urged to have adequate medical insurance for themselves and for any accompanying family members. Harvard does not require scholars to sign up for health insurance plans, however, Massachusetts law requires all Massachusetts residents to have health insurance. In addition, scholars and their dependents on J Exchange Visitor visas are required by the U.S. Department of State to have health insurance according to the J Scholar Visa regulations.
Health Insurance Eligibility at Harvard
Harvard University faculty and staff, including postdoctoral fellows, are eligible for a wide range of benefits programs. In most cases, they are eligible for University benefits if employed on a regular University payroll and working at least 17.5 hours per week or are paid at a base annual rate of at least $15,000.
Most of Harvard's benefits require you to take some action in order to participate, and some cover you automatically once you become eligible. Harvard's medical and dental insurance plans offer individual coverage and/or family coverage, which include eligible dependents, same sex marriage and/or qualified domestic partners as well as benefits for postdoctoral fellows. All questions about these options are handled by Benefits Consultants in the Office of Human Resources (114 Mt. Auburn Street, 4th floor). To find out the name of the Benefits Consultant for your area or department, please call 617-496-4001.
Health Insurance Information for Scholars Who Are Not Eligible for Benefits
Scholars who are not eligible for the University benefits program must find an appropriate health insurance plan. This insurance could be a foreign-based plan or a plan based in the United States. If your health insurance plan in your home country provides coverage while you are in the United States that meets the J health insurance requirements, you may not need any additional insurance. If you do not have health insurance that covers you while in the United States you will have to make arrangements for health insurance soon after your arrival in the United States. Some non-employee post-doctoral affiliates may qualify for the Harvard University Student Health Plan. Scholars may also choose a plan outside Harvard if they do not have health insurance coverage from their home countries.
Insurance Plans Outside Harvard
The HIO has information regarding alternative health insurance plans for those who are not eligible for Harvard employee benefits. These plans satisfy the U.S. Department of State health insurance requirements for J visa holders.
- Compass Benefits Groups
- Wallach & Company
- International Scholar Health Insurance Plan (ISHIP); Contact your HIO advisor to get a copy of this plan.
Medical Evacuation and Repatriation Coverage
Massachusetts Health Reform
As of July 1, 2007, all residents of Massachusetts are required to have health insurance. Under this law, most Massachusetts adults are now required to have health insurance. In an attempt to make health insurance more affordable to residents, an independent state agency called the Health Connector was created to help Massachusetts residents find health care coverage. You may be eligible for some of the plans offered by the State of Massachusetts.
Scholars wishing to enroll their dependents for health insurance plans should do so when they themselves enroll or when their dependents arrive, if they arrive at a later date. Dependents of scholars who are eligible for employee benefits are eligible for the same health insurance plans as the employee. Dependents of affiliates may enroll in the Harvard University Student Health Plan only if the affiliate is also enrolled. Scholar dependents must enroll in the Harvard plan within 30 days of the scholar's appointment start date, or within 30 days of their own arrival in the United States. Dependents may enroll only for six-month intervals, i.e., beginning in August or February. If dependents do not choose the Harvard plan, they may not use the HUHS on a "fee-for service" basis.
Please note that unmarried same-sex partners of scholars eligible for employee benefits may enroll as dependents in any of the employee health plans. Unmarried same-sex partners of affiliates may enroll as dependents in the Harvard University Student Health Plan. Unmarried partners of affiliates who are not of the same sex as the affiliates may not enroll as dependents in any of the health insurance plans listed on this web site. In most cases, dependents who enroll in a non-Harvard plan may do so only if the scholar is also enrolled.
There are no dental insurance options for scholars who are not eligible for employee benefits. Fee-for-service dental care is available on the Harvard Square and Longwood Medical Area campuses. The use of dental clinics associated with dental schools is a money-saving way to receive good dental care. Depending on the level of education of the practitioner, the costs at these clinics are usually less expensive than private dentists. Private dentists are listed in the yellow pages of the telephone directory under Dentists.