Health Insurance for Postdocs

Eligible Coverage

Individual coverage.  Postdoctoral researchers (post-docs) are eligible for all health care insurance plans available to employees at Rice University.  This includes medical and dental plans found on the benefits website:

Dependent coverage.  Postdoctoral fellows may enroll their eligible dependents in the medical plans, but are required to pay the employee premium for this coverage.  The University will also pay its portion of the cost.  Depending on the award terms, dependent coverage may or may not be a reimbursable expense.

Guidelines for the Provision of Health Care Insurance to Postdoctoral Researchers Sponsored by External Fellowships

Awards that provide a health care allowance

In those cases in which a postdoctoral award is accompanied by an institutional allowance that may be used to cover up to the full cost of health insurance, fellows will have the opportunity to participate in the University’s employee health plan program at no cost to the researcher.  The normal health plan premium deductions will be taken from the post-doc’s check and they can then apply for reimbursement under the grant up to amount available.  The University may also seek reimbursement from the grant for the Rice portion of the premiums if funding is available.

In the case of a health care allowance that is insufficient to cover the normal health plan premium deductions, the researcher is expected to pay the difference.

Awards that do not provide a health care allowance

If a fellow is sponsored by a postdoctoral fellowship that does not provide an allowance that can be used to cover the cost of the fellow’s health care premium, the fellow will, nevertheless, have the option to participate in the employee health plans at the University. However, in this case, the researcher is expected to pay only the employee portion of the premium and University will pay its portion of the cost.  


NIH postdoctoral fellowships.   An NIH postdoctoral award provides an allowance of $7,000 to cover health care premium costs and trainee related expenses. This allowance may be used to pay first the fellow portion of health care and the trainee related expenses.  The University’s portion of the premium may also be charged to the award subject to availability of funding.

NSF postdoctoral fellowships.  Where allowed by the agency, these awards may be used to pay the fellow’s portion of the health care premium. The University’s portion of the premium may also be charged to the award subject to availability of funding.

Other awards. The provision of health care benefits to postdoctoral fellows whose awards do not fit into any of the above categories will be treated on an individual basis. However, the general principles as conveyed by these guidelines will be applied.

Reimbursement Process

To seek reimbursement of the fellow portion of the health care premium, the post-doc should contact his/her department administrator, who will prepare a reimbursement check request.  The reimbursement request must be supported by a copy of the Esther print out documenting the deductions.  Reimbursement is limited to available funds.