Opinion letter to the editor

Director of MIT Medical responds to “How MIT health insurance fails graduate workers”

To the editor,

On behalf of MIT Medical, I write in response to the opinion piece that appeared in the Oct. 28 issue of The Tech (“A $6,000 bill and inadequate coverage: How MIT health insurance fails graduate workers”).

We offer our graduate students competitive and reasonably priced health and dental insurance, provide generous support for students facing medical and other financial hardships, and work collaboratively with students to improve our delivery of medical services.

First, MIT is proud to offer its graduate students comprehensive health insurance whose premiums compare very favorably to those at our peer institutions, let alone the open marketplace. Our rates for individual students, or for students and their partners, are on par with or less expensive than those at peers such as Brown, Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, and Stanford. MIT’s rates for plans including spouses and children are significantly lower than those peers — often by half — and our family plans are nearly two-thirds less expensive. 

Students also have multiple other insurance options available to them. Some choose to waive the Student Extended Insurance Plan each year. Those who do so can select plans from the Massachusetts Health Connector, find other private insurance, or join plans through spouses, partners, or parents. 

Second, for graduate students who encounter financial hardship — whether due to medical or other expenses — MIT offers many types of emergency financial assistance. Since the pandemic began, the Miller Fund has approved nearly $21,000 of support to help students with their medical expenses. 

In addition, graduate students have access to ​​short-term emergency funds (for one-time, non-recurring emergencies), doctoral long-term financial hardship funding, and need-blind grants for graduate students with children. During the last year and a half, MIT has allocated $510,000 in short-term funds to 325 students. In the last academic year, MIT distributed $79,000 in long-term hardship assistance funds to 10 students and $230,000 in dependent child grants to 99 students.

Finally, at MIT Medical, we are always available to hear students’ concerns directly. Indeed, one of the cases cited in last week’s opinion piece is an excellent example of MIT Medical partnering with students to achieve expanded health care access: prior to 2019, graduate students received coverage for 12 therapy sessions per year outside of MIT Medical, before a $25 copay per session was applied. An impacted student expressed concerns to MIT Medical in Fall 2019, and we immediately opened a dialogue with a group of graduate students about improving the benefit. Together, we worked to enhance the medical plan to increase coverage to our current 52 therapy sessions a year.

We continue to encourage all students to educate themselves about their health insurance benefits and options, and we are always available to answer students’ questions.

Cecilia Stuopis, M.D.
Medical Director, MIT Medical