Graduate Student Health Insurance

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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If graduate students in fact spend all their time holed up in their dorms or apartments grading their undergrads' papers and working on their own theses, do they really even need health insurance coverage? While it's unlikely that the graduate student lifestyle at any campus will lend itself to weekend expeditions, off-road adventures, and high-impact sports (not to mention binge drinking contests at frat houses), it's foolish for even the "safest" or most conservative students to go without coverage. Some of the most devastating illnesses and injuries are completely unrelated to traditionally "dangerous" activities such as those mentioned above.

Care providers all around the country have recently seen an alarming rise in the number of severe upper respiratory infections, just to name one common ailment. When the usual spate of autumn and winter bugs is compounded by dorm living and dense student populations, it's no wonder that infections are so common. The small warm (and often moist) classroom environment is one of the most conducive to the spread of pathogens.

Plans for Grad Students

By and large, graduate student instructors face the same menu of choices as their undergrad counterparts. Provided that GSIs meet the required number of credit hours per term, there's no reason they should have any greater difficulty in finding health coverage. These instructors can still choose to take advantage of university health services, which generally make no distinction between students of differing levels.

As far as private insurance is concerned, it makes sense that companies court graduate students a bit more aggressively, as older students are more likely to be without coverage through their parents. Hence, a 25- or 26-year-old student will have fewer affordable options and likely be forced to buy an adult plan of his or her own if university-prescribed care is insufficient. On a graduate student's paltry pay, this can be hugely burdensome and therefore compel GSIs to buy into discount provider access programs instead of traditional (and costly) insurance plans.

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