Health Insurance

Who qualifies for health insurance benefits?

Most postdocs are eligible for Harvard’s health insurance plans and other employee benefits. That information will be mailed to your home address after you start at Harvard. External postdocs (those who are not paid by Harvard) are not eligible for Harvard’s health insurance plan, but they can qualify for an affiliate plan.

What are the benefits?

Qualifying postdocs can sign up for one of several health insurance options through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, and can also elect coverage for their spouse, children, or both for an additional cost. To learn more about your options you can explore here, or use the online benefits counselor to help you consider your coverage options. Note that your specific insurance options differ if you are paid as a Harvard employee (hired directly by your PI or a research associate with grant funding) or paid as a stipendee (on a fellowship which pays you a stipend through Harvard).

Benefits-eligible postdocs can also choose to buy dental insurance, vision insurance, long-term disability insurance, and supplemental life insurance coverage. A description of these options can be found here.

Note that starting in 2020 Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts will replace Harvard Pilgrim Health Care as the health plan administrator. 

Harvard Perks

  • Postdocs (but not research associates) receive a 20% discount at Sebastian’s Cafe when purchasing items using Crimson Cash. Say “I’m a postdoc here” to get the discount.
  • Postdocs and research associates can get a 50% discounted monthly MBTA pass or $20 per month for bicycling expenses. MASCO shuttles are free with a Harvard ID.
  • Postdocs and research associates who have been at HSPH for at least one year can get reimbursement for gym memberships.
  • Postdocs with children can apply for a child care scholarship.
  • Postdocs can take courses at the Harvard Chan School as non-degree students. Information on taking courses can be found on our teaching and learning page.
  • The Office for Faculty Affairs lists other benefits for postdocs and keeps a separate list of benefits for annual appointees, which includes research associates.