Stanford University
Postdoctoral Scholars

Postdoctoral Medical Insurance Plan and Rate Change - 2012

Posted 9:24 AM, October 31, 2011, by tjwilson


As you know, issues around health insurance for faculty, staff, and students have been challenging this year at Stanfordóand nationwideódue to the increasing costs of health care and other factors. The medical insurance coverage for our postdocs is no exception and, indeed, has been the most vulnerable partly because of the small pool size and a rate of turnover of insured individuals. Earlier this month, the 2011 carrier for postdoc insurance, Blue Cross, informed us that our higher premium rates in 2012 could not be guaranteed and they would reserve the right to re-rate the plan mid-year. Because guaranteed and set monthly premiums are essential for a stable benefits program, Stanford selected a new insurer for the plan next year. We received a bid from Blue Shield of California guaranteed premium rates in 2012 and prevented a serious disruption of service to nearly 900 postdocs and their families who were at risk of losing access to Stanford Hospital and Clinics. However, as is true for faculty and staff plans, the cost in 2012 will be significantly higher than in the past. For 2012, the employer cost will be 52% more than 2011 for the postdoc plan.

The University will continue to provide coverage for postdocs without spouses or dependent coverage at zero cost to them, and will continue to subsidize the monthly postdoc contributions towards children and family coverage.

This anticipated rate increase will not impact the majority of our faculty whose postdocs are salaried on sponsored grants and contracts. The provisional postdoc fringe rate announced for FY12 of 19.8% will unlikely change at this point in time, per recent consultation with Thomas Wong at Cost and Management Analysis.

However, this rate increase will be realized in two ways:
1. Departments in which postdocs are on fellowship support, and which pay for insurance costs out of unrestricted funds, will have a 52% increase in their costs covering these postdocs.
2. All postdocs who cover dependents, regardless of their funding type (salary or stipend) will have a 30-50% increase in out-of-pocket contributions.

To assist our postdocs who cover their families, we are doubling the subsidies available through Family Healthcare Fund in 2012 up to $120/month. This aid program is jointly funded by the School of Medicine Dean and the Provost. This program accepts applications from postdocs from all schools on a quarterly basis. Fall applications are due November 9. More information can be found on the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs website at

Please work with your faculty as you see fit to prepare for these increases. We realize that the rising costs create an untenable situation, and several individuals across the University, the Postdoc Advisory Committee, and Human Resources are considering creative solutions to address it. If you have questions, feel free to reach me at 725-5075 or by email at or contact the Postdoc Benefits Manager, Sandra DeGaine, at

Examples that describe in real terms how the change may affect different groups, and sample rates, are included below. Complete rates and information about Open Enrollment is on the Postdoc Benefits website at

Sample Rate Comparison between 2012 and 2011 Monthly Rates*. Complete rates for all coverage levels and plan types are online at

2012 Medical-Blue Shield EPO
Full Cost (employer/postdoc split)
Postdoc Only $687 ($687/$0)
Postdoc+Family $2,060 ($1,442/$618)

2011 Anthem Blue Cross HMO
Full Cost (employer/postdoc split)
Postdoc Only $452 ($452/$0)
Postdoc+Family $1,358 ($951/$407)

% Change = 52%
*Most postdocs are on the HMO plan and will be in the EPO plan in 2012.

Employer (i.e., University or Department) pays 100% of Postdoc Only premium and 70% of premium for Postdoc+Spouse/Domestic Partner; Postdoc+Child(ren); Postdoc+Family coverage. Postdoc is billed for 30% of premium for Postdoc+Spouse/Domestic Partner; Postdoc+Child(ren); Postdoc+Family coverage.

Case 1: Postdoc JS is fully salaried on Professor AMís research grant. Grant is assessed 19.8% fringe rate in FY12 regardless of insurance coverage or funding source.

Scenario A: If Postdoc JS is singleóNo charge for department (other than the fringe). JS pays nothing.
Scenario B: If Postdoc JS is insuring a familyóNo charge for department (other than the fringe). JSís monthly premium contribution increases from $407 to $618/month.

Case 2: Postdoc TM is fully funded on a fellowship and receives a monthly stipend. Per University policy, a departmental PTA is charged for the employer contribution towards his insurance costs. That is 100% of single coverage and 70% of dependent coverage.
Scenario A: If Postdoc TM is singleó department charge increases from $452 to $687/month. TM pays nothing.
Scenario B: If Postdoc TM is insuring a familyó department charge increases from $951 to $1442/month. TMís monthly premium increases from $407 to $618/month.

Case 3: Postdoc CB is on a blended fellowship and salary support.
Scenario A: If the salary amount is higher than 50% of CBís total funding, refer to Case 1.
Scenario B: If the salary amount is less than 50% of CBís total funding, refer to Case 2.

Rania Sanford, Ed.D.
Assistant Dean
Postdoctoral Affairs
Stanford University
Tel.: 650-725-5075

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