Health Insurance Policy

Postdoctoral Fellows – Health Insurance Policy

Massachusetts law requires all state residents over the age of 18 to obtain health insurance. The policy is effective for any postdoc who joins the Harvard Chan School on or after October 1, 2013. As of this date, verification of adequate health insurance will be required as a part of the appointment process for new post-docs

All newly-appointed Harvard Chan School postdoctoral research fellows (postdocs) must have health insurance coverage that meets the Massachusetts minimum coverage (see Minimum Creditable Coverage (MCC) Requirements). Postdocs who are not on the Harvard payroll and thus not eligible for Harvard University employee health insurance, must complete the Confirmation of Health Insurance Coverage Form to confirm their health insurance coverage before their appointment will be processed by the Office of Faculty Affairs.

The following are helpful links regarding benefits:

Health insurance plans that externally-funded postdocs may want to purchase include:

      • Postdoc Affiliate Coverage through the Student Health Program available through Harvard University Health Services (HUHS)
      • Purchase of an individual or family through the Massachusetts Health Connector, or directly from one of the participating health insurance companies
      • Postdocs who hold a J-1 visa are required to have medical coverage that meets U.S. government regulations.  These include repatriation and medical evacuation insurance.  Information about this policy is available on the Harvard International Office’s (HIO) website

In general, if a postdoc’s health coverage is not provided by an employer or other funding source, the sponsoring faculty member is responsible for reimbursing the postdoc up to $2500 per year for the purchase of health insurance. We recommend any postdoc with dependents who also need health insurance coverage negotiate such coverage with the sponsoring faculty member. These reimbursements are considered income by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and may be taxable.

Payments given to nonresident aliens for U.S. tax purposes will have taxes withheld unless the individual qualifies for, and is granted, a tax treaty benefit that reduces or eliminates tax withholding. In the absence of a tax treaty benefit, the withholding rate depends on the type of visa held.  For F, J, M, and Q visas, the withholding rate is 14%; for all other visas, the withholding rate is 30%. Information on payments to foreign nationals can be found on Harvard University’s Nonresident Alien Tax Compliance web page for Tax Withholding and Reporting for Foreign Individuals and Foreign Entities.