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Exception to Policy - Postdoc Pay All Health Insurance

Compensation and Benefits Policy for Stanford appointed postdocs

A 2002 policy change expanded insurance benefits for postdocs and specified that the department/PI is responsible for the institutional cost of all health insurance benefits, including instances where the postdoc has enrolled dependents. This memo details how these benefits are paid, specifically:

  • From the benefits pool when the postdoc’s salary represent at least 50% of their funding and the full postdoc fringe rate is applied to the salary PTA; or
  • From departmental, faculty, or other unrestricted funds when the postdoc’s salary represents less than 50% of their total funding, or

Exception to Policy

When external funding provides funds in addition to compensation, and those funds can specifically be used to pay for a postdoc’s health insurance premiums, the department may request an exception to policy that allows the postdoc to pay for their health insurance from these funds.

Departments are encouraged to submit an exception request before the postdoc appointment recommendation form has been submitted to OPA for review. All documentation is required in order to review the request. Should a department make the request or provide the necessary documentation after the appointment start date, any benefit approvals will be made effective on the 1st day of the following month. Approvals are not made retroactively. Review of the request can take up to 6 weeks.

To request an exception, departments must provide all of the following information in an email to Denise Livengood (, with a cc: to either Tammy Wilson ( for University postdocs or Alistair Murray ( for School of Medicine postdocs.

  • Minimum compensation or total funding per the recommendation form - whichever is greater
    • future September 1 funding increases must also be taken into account
  • Number of dependents (in order to determine coverage level)
  • A copy of the official funding letter stipulating that:
    • the funds above and beyond the compensation portion can be used for health insurance;
    • the amount provided for the insurance covers the full Institutional portion of the insurance benefits (for the postdocs and any dependents) and
    • the timing of payments or reimbursements to the postdocs for monies spent on health premiums

Requester will receive a decision email when the review is completed. If approved, requester must:

  • Notify the postdoc via email, with a cc: to Postdoc Benefits ( that they will be responsible for their own health premium costs.
    • If Postdoc Benefits is not on copy and aware of this arrangement in advance, postdoc will not be responsible for any months of insurance premiums charged to the department.
  • Upon approval of the recommentation form, notify Postdoc Benefits to update benefit classification in Benelogic to “Postdoc Pay All. This will prompt billing to collect premiums from postdoc.

Any changes to the postdoc appointment or postdoc coverage (addition of spouse and/or children) will require additional review when/if those changes occur.

In cases where the outside funding only partially covers the full combined minimum compensation and insurance costs, we may consider cases in which the PI supplements the postdoc with additional compensation to cover the shortfall.


Last updated August 4, 2023