Health Insurance Savings
In April, the university announced a change in the default health insurance provider for part-time graduate student academic employees from UT SELECT to Academic Blue (SHIP). The goal of this change is to improve health care access and continuity, as recommended by the Graduate Education Task Force.
UT System manages the insurance plans for UT Austin along with the seven other academic campuses and five health institutions bearing the UT name. Academic Blue (SHIP) is the UT System insurance plan for a variety of students, including undergraduate and graduate students, Dell Medical School and School of Law students, and it is also the plan for visiting scholars and postdoctoral fellows. UT SELECT is the employee group health insurance plan for all eligible employees and retirees. Both plans provide quality coverage and are rated gold level by the Affordable Care Act, but the premiums for UT SELECT are higher due to a broader range of ages and health conditions of its subscribers.
The change to insuring graduate students through Academic Blue (SHIP) also potentially provides centrally recoverable savings to the university, which we have directed to support graduate education. The Graduate School, working with Financial and Administrative Services and the Office of the Provost, approached the University Budget Council with a $10.9 million request (the upper bound estimate of centrally recoverable savings) to increase graduate student support.
UT Austin is one of two academic institutions within UT System that provides full premium support for graduate student employees on Academic Blue (SHIP). UT System’s other academic institutions offer 50% premium contributions for part-time academic graduate student employees under UT SELECT.
Additionally, since the change was first announced, the university has received updated guidance from UT System that UT Austin is no longer required to withhold federal income tax for premium support toward Academic Blue. For more information, please read the Graduate School’s email to graduate student academic employees.
Raising salaries has been a joint effort involving leadership in colleges and schools across campus, Financial and Administrative Services, Graduate Student Assembly (GSA) leadership, the Office of the Provost, the University Budget Council (UBC) and members of the Graduate Education Task Force.
We would like to thank everyone across campus who has been involved in this effort and who continues to work to improve graduate education at UT Austin.