Health Insurance Policy

Postdoctoral Fellows – Health Insurance Policy

(revised 10/06/2020)

Effective October 1, 2013, 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.

Details of the Health Coverage for Harvard Chan School Postdocs- 2018 Update is available online.

A benefits presentation from the Central Benefits Office for new postdocs can be found here.

Further information regarding 2020 health benefits can be found here.

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 Commonwealth Choice Plan from the Massachusetts Health Connector, or directly from one of the participating health insurance companies.  Among the types of plans offered, the Bronze Plan is the minimum level of coverage that meets the requirements of state law, and the minimum level of coverage that meets the requirements of this policy
  • 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 should be responsible for reimbursing the postdoc up to $2500 per year for the purchase of health insurance. These reimbursements are considered income by the Internal Revenue Service, 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 at