The DSC’s Grad-student Guide to Insurance Coverage


**Note: this page is still in the process of being updated to reflect changes put in place by ACA –CT**

There are a number of available options if you don’t have any health insurance, or your existing coverage is too limited.

As a first step, you can contact Elise Perram in the Office of Student Affairs. She’ll take you through the best options available to you as a grad student—whether you need coverage for yourself, or for your family as well.

Guide to non-NYSHIP insurance

Not covered by NYSHIP? A guide to non-NYSHIP insurance

This post includes a guide from Elise Perram about navigating insurance generally.

Low-cost health insurance options:

NYC Health Insurance Link: The Office of Citywide Health Insurance Access has provided resources on its site to help NYers learn how to get the health coverage best suited for them. Includes advice about how to choose a plan, definitions of what different plans are (for example, public vs. private plans) as well as guides to health insurance vocabulary, and a short video about how to enroll using the Marketplace.

Where to get free or low cost care: Links from the Office of Citywide Health Insurance Access to programs and care available for uninsured NYers, as you are searching out insurance options.

Single Stop USA: An organization dedicated to connecting people to the “safety net” and the resources they need at a single “one stop” stop. Our local branch is located down the road from the GC, in the NYPL’s Mid-Manhattan Library (455 Fifth Avenue, 3rd floor; (800) 290-7189). Elise has noted that this is a resource that students find useful for help in enrolling in insurance plans.


Individuals who meet certain requirements of income, resource, age, or disability may be eligible for Medicaid. For information about eligibility and applications call 1-877-472-8411 or visit their website at Applications and assistance in filling them out can also be obtained by calling New York Health Options at 855-693-6765. Residents of the Five Boroughs may also call 311 for more information or contact the Human Resources Administration directly by calling (718) 557-1399.

Marketplace Exchanges:

Starting in 2014, low-cost health insurance options (such as Child Health Plus) can be found through the Marketplace Exchanges set up by the ACA.

Further tools for finding low-cost options:

  • NJ Family Care: Affordable health insurances for qualified NJ residents (for people who do not have employer insurance).
  • Health First Plan Finder: A “tool to help you find the health insurance plan that best fits your life, lets you compare costs and benefits, and determine if you qualify for any financial assistance.”

New for 2016: “The Essential Plan,” a plan for lower-income people who don’t qualify for Medicaid or Child Health plus.

  • $20 or less a month per person; can enroll all year long.
  • Fact sheet from NY State of Health

Need Assistance signing up for Marketplace plans?

Visit the NY State of Health Official Health Plan Marketplace website or call 1-855-355-5777.

Here are some other places you can find Community Health Advocates who can help you through the process of signing up for a marketplace plan:

Community Service Society of New York
105 East 22nd Street, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10010

Callen-Lorde Community Health Center
356 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011

The Gay Men’s Health Crisis
446 West 33rd St.
New York, NY 10011

Bellevue Hospital
462 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10016

For more Community Health Advocates:

COBRA coverage

COBRA kicks in when you are no longer eligible for NYSHIP; it allows you to continue having the same benefits for a 36 month period, while paying for NYSHIP insurance at the full rate (rather than the subsidized rate you can get while NYSHIP-eligible)

  • 2016 rates are as follows:
    • Individual- $261/mo.
    • Family-   $830/mo.
  • COBRA Checks made out to: Employee Insurance Pending Account
    • Checks mailed to:
      New York State Department of Civil Service
      Employee Benefits Division-COBRA unit
      Alfred E. Smith State Office Building,
      Albany, NY 12239
  • COBRA Coverage FAQs
From NYC Health Insurance Link, “Quick Facts about Catastrophic Plans”
  • If you are under the age of thirty, you may qualify for a catastrophic health plan, which protects you from the extremely high medical costs that you could face if you get very sick or have an accident.  Catastrophic plans are available in NY State of Health.

    • With a catastrophic plan, you can go to doctor for primary care three times during the year and receive preventive care at no cost to you.
    • If you get sick or need more care, you’ll have to pay several thousand dollars before insurance kicks in. The monthly cost for this plan is lower than for other plans because of this high deductible.

    When you apply to purchase a plan in the Marketplace, if you qualify for a catastrophic plan, it will be listed as an option for you to select.


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 Supported by the CUNY Doctoral Students Council.