Roughly 10 years after the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences began paying the full price of Yale health insurance for students with families, few professional schools at Yale have followed suit.
The graduate school Health Award, as it is called — a subsidy that covers the full cost of Yale Health insurance for graduate students with families — was initiated by former Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean Jon Butler after the school’s administration realized those students were turning to social services for health insurance. At Yale, all students are eligible to purchase Yale Health Specialty insurance at an annual fee of $2,176. But the price of Yale Health insurance jumps to $8,098 when a spouse is added to the plan. The family insurance plan, which covers a spouse and children, costs a further $5,488, bringing the cost of health insurance for a graduate student with a three-member family to $13,586.
Students can only stay on their parents’ insurance plan until they turn 26. As a result, Yale students with children must shoulder the cost of the health insurance for both themselves and their whole families, while living on a student budget.
“For the normal healthy typical adult, you don’t need to worry about insurance,” said one professional student who is on Medicaid and WIC but asked to remain anonymous to avoid the stigma associated with those services. “But after getting pregnant, the chances of me having a health issue goes up by a lot, along with the cost of insurance.”
Each Yale professional school has a different financial aid arrangement, but only the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will pay the full cost, and then only for full-time doctoral candidates with families. For schools without such an arrangement, students who lack the money must turn to Connecticut’s health care exchange for a cheaper option and in extenuating circumstances, Medicaid. The student who asked to remain anonymous said she had to resort to Medicaid because the professional school she is enrolled in does not have a financial aid policy that adequately supports students with families.
The School of Medicine is one of the professional schools whose health insurance financial aid policy makes it difficult for low-income students with families to fund health care. At the medical school, students’ financial aid packages only increase by $4,320 for the first child added onto the Yale Health Plan and $3,040 for each additional child. With each additional child, the cost of the Yale Health Plan outpaces the rise in financial aid the University offers by roughly $1,168. For students not covered by their spouse’s health insurance, financing health care for their whole family can become difficult.
“The only other option for additional funding above the student budget calculated by the school is a wealthy family to help you out or high-interest private loans,” the student said.
The student interviewed said that she rarely discusses her situation with others because she has had negative experiences with the Yale administration, which she said was insensitive to her need to use social services. She further noted that the same stigma makes it hard to know just how many graduate student families this issue affects.
“I ran into an MBA student family at a Medicaid and Free Care Clinic,” she said. “That’s how I know I’m not the only one.”
University Spokesperson Tom Conroy said that his office does not have statistics on the number of students at the University who have spouses and children or the number who are using social services, and referred questions to the graduate and professional school administrations.
However, Dean of the School of Medicine Robert Alpern said he does not know the numbers of students at the school who have children.
Laura Ment, medical school associate dean for admissions and financial aid, and Nancy Angoff, associate dean for student affairs at the school, did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.
A year of tuition at the School of Medicine costs $55,680.