Grad Students Lose Health Insurance

Two universities drop benefits for graduate students or their dependents.

By | August 18, 2015

PIXABAY, FIRMBEELast Friday (August 14), a number of graduate students at the University of Missouri found out they were losing their health insurance coverage—the very next day. According to news reports, the Affordable Care Act fines employers that offer subsidies so that staff members can buy their own insurance.

“We’re trying to comply with the interpretation of federal law,” Vice Chancellor for Graduate Studies, Leona Rubin, told the Columbia Daily Tribune. “We’re not trying to hurt” students, she said.

The discontinuation of the coverage only affects students employed by the university. The school is redirecting the $3.1 million it had been spending on these students’ insurance to a one-time fellowship. “This, I understand, is only a short-term ‘fix,’” Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin wrote in an apology to students for the short-term notice. The largest fellowship, offered to domestic students with a 20-hour assistantship appointment, is $1,240.

Students were troubled by the abrupt change, among them PhD student Jennifer McKinney Wilson, who was in labor at the time of her interview with Mid-Missouri Public Radio and without health insurance. “Being a graduate student has always been a little difficult and challenging. I mean, you have to make sacrifices to be here. Most of us took cuts in pay and things to come here. So up until today there were sacrifices, but they were doable. And now it doesn’t seem so doable.”

At the University of California, Berkeley, students were also upset by a recent decision to drop coverage for dependents in an effort to keep students’ insurance costs down, The Daily Californian reported in June. Students were also offered a one-time grant to help defray the costs of buying insurance for family members who would lose the benefit, but some complained that it came with strings attached, namely, waiving the right to sue over the lost coverage, the newspaper reported in July.

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You



Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo


Avatar of: Paul Stein

Paul Stein

Posts: 237

August 23, 2015

Indian Grad Students on Strike as reported by Jef Akst here on The Scientist.  Perhaps American graduate students should do the same. 

Avatar of: Paul Stein

Paul Stein

Posts: 237

August 23, 2015

The students of the University of California, Berkeley have had a history of dealings with their administration in manners other than being "upset".

Popular Now

  1. 2017 Top 10 Innovations
    Features 2017 Top 10 Innovations

    From single-cell analysis to whole-genome sequencing, this year’s best new products shine on many levels.

  2. Thousands of Mutations Accumulate in the Human Brain Over a Lifetime
  3. Antiviral Immunotherapy Comes of Age
    News Analysis Antiviral Immunotherapy Comes of Age

    T-cell therapies are not just for cancer. Researchers are also advancing immunotherapy methods to protect bone marrow transplant patients from viral infections. 

  4. Search for Life on the Red Planet