Medical Plans

Harvard offers you a choice of several medical plans so that you can compare the options and select a plan that best meets your and your family’s needs and preferences. All plans (except the PPO) are offered through both of our providers: Harvard’s own Harvard University Group Health Plan (HUGHP) and top-rated Harvard Pilgrim Health Care (HPHC). See how the two provider networks compare here.

Open Enrollment 2020

Benefits Open Enrollment for 2020 was October 23-November 6, 2018 and is now closed. You will receive a confirmation statement mailed to your home in mid-November. Please review this statement and contact Harvard Benefits immediately if there are any errors.

Everyone enrolled in BCBSMA medical coverage will receive a new ID card in December. Although prescription coverage is not changing, those enrolled in BCBSMA will also receive a new Express Scripts card in December, which should be used to fill prescriptions beginning January 1, 2020.

If you enrolled in or changed your medical, dental, or vision care coverage during Open Enrollment, you will receive your plan ID card(s) in late December. If you elected an FSA for the first time in 2020, you will receive your Benefit Strategies debit card in December.

Plan options

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)
With an HMO, you select a primary care physician (PCP) who coordinates your care and can provide you with referrals to in-network specialists. Out-of-network care is not covered, except in certain emergency situations. 

Point of Service (POS)
Like an HMO, you designate a PCP. However, you have the flexibility to use out-of-network providers for services.

Also available to Faculty and Nonunion Staff
High-Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) Featuring lower premiums and higher deductibles than a traditional health plan, the HDHP is offered in conjunction with a Health Savings Account (HSA). (External postdocs and stipendees are not eligible for this plan.)

POS Plus
With the same benefits as a traditional POS, the POS Plus plan has higher premiums and a higher out-of-pocket maximum in exchange for no deductible or coinsurance for in-network services. 

Also available to SEIU Arboretum
Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)
Available only to employees who live outside Massachusetts. Go to any health care professional you choose inside or outside your network without a PCP referral. Only available through HPHC.

Also available to SEIU members
Combined medical, dental and vision coverage through the SEIU for members and eligible dependents (domestic partners are not eligible). If you enroll in the SEIU plan, you cannot also be enrolled in Harvard’s dental or vision coverage.

Learn more by reviewing our Medical Plan Overview for 2019.

Prescription coverage
Prescription coverage is included in all Harvard plans and is provided through Express Scripts. Express Scripts offers a number of web- and app-based tools, including drug price comparison, signing up for mail order, downloading a member ID card and more. Learn how to make the most of these tools.

Additional  plans

Global benefit program
For eligible employees working abroad. Learn more.

Retiree health programs
Benefits for employees who are in retirement.  Learn more.

Compare plan features and rates

To compare plans available to you, including rates and coverage options, please go to the Plan Rates & Features page and choose the information for your employee group. 

COBRA, Layoff, Global Plan and Ex-Spouse rates can be found under Forms & Documents  > Total Rewards > Health Benefit Rates. Rates for Domestic Partner can be found at Forms & Documents > Total Rewards > Domestic Partner.

Fitness reimbursement benefit

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and HUGHP provide members with a fitness reimbursement of up $150 annually toward membership at gyms/fitness facilities. Check with your health plan provider for details about eligible facilities and reimbursement instructions.


All faculty and staff enrolled in a Harvard-sponsored medical plan have access to an optional program, SmartShopper, that lets you compare costs for certain medical procedures and receive a financial incentive of up to $250 for using a preferred provider.

Prices for same quality medical services can vary by hundreds to thousands of dollars. When your doctor recommends a procedure or test, visit the SmartShopper portal (see flyer for portal links) or call the Personal Assistant team at 877-281-3722 for HUGHP members; 844-274-0746 for HPHC members to determine whether the procedure is offered at a convenient provider at a lower price. When you select a more cost-effective location, you will receive a financial incentive.

Note: Beginning January 1, 2020, all SmartShopper referral requests can be made by calling the Personal Assistant team at 877-281-3722. If you are in an HPHC plan and have a SmartShopper referral or appointment for services that will be received in 2020, you will need to call SmartShopper at this number to get a new referral. 

Sample incentives (many other procedures are included):

Health Care Service Financial incentives paid to participant (amount depends on provider selection)
Bone density scan $25-$50
Bunionectomy $50-$150
Cataract removal $50-$125
Colonoscopy $50-$250
CT scan $50-$75
Knee or shoulder arthroscopy $50-$250
Mammogram $25-$50
MRI $50-$100
Ultrasound (non-maternity) $50-$150

Payments are taxable and you will receive a 1099 tax form for reporting purposes from SmartShopper when you receive $600 or more in a year. Employees and dependents are eligible provided they are not also enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid.

Form 1095-C

Harvard is required under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) to provide Form 1095-C to active employees eligible for Harvard group health coverage in 2018, indicating that coverage meets the ACA's "Minimum Essential Coverage." The 2018 forms will mailed in mid-February, and, by law, they must be postmarked by 3/2/19. This form should be kept with your tax records (although you are not required to submit the form with your tax return). You can learn more here: