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RAs, TAs get paid medical insurance

MIT will pay the extended medical insurance premiums for graduate student research and teaching assistants in 2004-05 while keeping stipends at their current levels, giving RAs and TAs the equivalent of a 7 to 9 percent pay increase for the coming fiscal year.

Provost Robert A. Brown announced the change last month after the Graduate Student Council (GSC) worked with faculty and administrators to find a solution to last June's dramatic increase in student health insurance premiums.

"I am very pleased that the Institute has been able to offer this subsidy for our graduate students serving as RAs and TAs. The plan is the result of a collaborative effort involving the GSC and other graduate student leaders," said Brown.

When it was announced in June 2003 that health insurance premiums for students would increase by 60 percent, MIT agreed to cover the increase for undergraduate students through additional financial aid. The Institute also increased RA and TA graduate student stipends by $30 a month to cover two-thirds of the $45-a-month cost increase those students would bear.

The decision means that the graduate student TAs and RAs will retain the $30-a-month increase in their stipends, but MIT will absorb the $45-a-month cost of extended medical insurance--in effect giving the students a pay increase.

The plan separates the cost of the SEIP (student extended medical insurance premium) from the graduate student stipend, relieving faculty from paying overhead costs on the SEIP portion of the stipend and students from paying income taxes on it.

Graduate students who have family members covered by their extended medical insurance will continue to pay additional out-of-pocket funds for their SEIP. The new plan will not affect graduate students who do not receive financial aid from MIT.

The premium for student extended medical insurance--which provides hospitalization coverage, special tests, access to medical specialists and prescription drugs--is now $1,440 per year. This is separate from coverage by the MIT Health Plan for students' routine medical care, as well as tests and infirmary stays at MIT Medical. The cost of MIT Health Plan coverage is $840 per student this year; that cost is built into tuition.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 10, 2004.

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