While all Yale students have access to health insurance coverage under the Yale Health insurance package, the package does not cover vision and dental services.

Over the past few years, a team of graduate students had negotiated a separate dental group plan for graduate students and acted as its ad hoc administrators by answering students’ questions about the dental plan — all without compensation. Yale’s graduate student dental plan is currently the only student-run healthcare scheme in the Ivy League. But now, Yale’s administration is planning to take it over.

“It took some time to get this issue into the hands of someone who was invested in helping find a solution, but we finally landed on the desk of someone from the Provost’s office who was both tasked with helping us, but also genuinely cared about helping us,” Graduate Student Assembly facilities and healthcare chair Jenette Creso GRD ’23 told the News. Creso declined to name the Provost’s Office worker who has been working with her.

Insurance provider Delta Dental contracted the graduate students’ insurance package. In an email to the News, Creso explained that there has been a management shift at Delta Dental that allowed for a new liaison between the company and Yale “who seems much more flexible in trying to get us improved benefits.”

This decision does not affect this year’s insurance scheme, since registration for the plan occurred before the personnel shift. But the assembly hopes to incorporate changes — such as monthly rather than annual premiums and waivers for one-year waiting periods on tooth fillings — into future insurance packages.

In an interview with the News last year, then Graduate and Professional Student Senate Advocacy Chair Ed Courchaine GRD ’20 — who was responsible for managing the dental plan — lamented that “students are not qualified insurance brokers.” He added that “we do not have the time or expertise to manage a plan that students deserve.” This frustration has fueled the two student government bodies to push for the transfer of management responsibilities to University administration. Creso added that one of the greatest obstacles to that goal, from the administration’s perspective, has been finding an office within the administration to manage the plan.

This year’s GPSS Advocacy Chair Kelly Backes GRD ’22 said that while it has been helpful having a liaison in the provost’s office, it would be better to have a specific administrative office within the Provost’s Office to manage the plan.

“While I remain skeptical based on past experience with the administration, I do have a glimmer of hope thanks to the member of the Provost’s office that seems determined to help us,” Creso said.

Creso added that graduate student leadership also hopes to continue dialogue with the liaison from Delta Dental throughout the year to investigate future options.

John Besche | john.besche@yale.edu