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. Plans are offered through two providers: Harvard's own Harvard University Group Health Plan (HUGHP) and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA).
While both networks offer access to the same specialists, if you enroll in HUGHP, you will need to choose a primary care physician within the Harvard University Health Services or Atrius Health provider network. See how the two provider networks compare.
Benefits Open Enrollment 2021
Benefits Open Enrollment 2021 was November 10-19, 2020 and is now closed. You will receive a confirmation statement mailed to your home in early December. Please review this statement and contact Harvard Benefits immediately if there are any errors.
If you enrolled in or changed your medical, dental or vision coverage during Open Enrollment, you will receive your new plan ID card(s) in late December. If you elected an FSA for the first time, you will receive your Benefits Strategies debit card in December.
Important Notice: Health Plan Resources for COVID-19; Certain Copayments Waived
As the University continues to work to address the needs of faculty and staff during the Coronavirus/COVID-19 public health emergency, Harvard in conjunction with its health plans will waive certain copayments.
You are encouraged to take advantage as needed of the following convenient options that are open to both BCBSMA and HUGHP members that allow you to access treatment and information without visiting a clinical setting in person:
- BCBS Well Connection. See licensed in-network doctors and providers for minor medical and behavioral health care using live video visits on your favorite device. Telehealth offers convenience (within the United States) as well as the opportunity to avoid potential exposure to contagion. Medical consultations 24/7. Learn more and how to access Well Connection. (Note that many telehealth copayments will be waived at this time, see below.)
- HUGHP members who use HUHS may access telehealth appointments for urgent care, counseling/behavioral health and some other services. Learn more about HUHS telehealth and how to make an appointment.
- BCBSMA has a dedicated coronavirus helpline at 888-372-1970 to answer questions about benefits, providers and other resources related to COVID-19. If you are a member with specific questions or concerns about your health or coverage, you should continue to call the BCBSMA phone number on the back of your member card.
- POS/POS+ members with out-of-network behavioral health providers should contact BCBSMA directly at the phone number on the back of the member card if notified by providers that they are changing to telehealth appointments during the coronavirus emergency. BCBSMA will provide information on the process for filing claims.
- See a list of free wellbeing resources and behavioral health resources compiled by BCBSMA Health Engagement (note that these are not affiliated with BCBSMA).
- Waive copayments, coinsurance and deductibles for medically-necessary testing, counseling (vaccines, when available) and treatment provided at doctors' offices, emergency rooms and urgent care centers, and acute inpatient care consistent with the guidance issued by the Massachusetts Division of Insurance. Any medical treatment for COVID-19 is covered under a member's health plan within the U.S. and internationally.
- Waive copayments, coinsurance and deductibles for telephonic and telehealth visits with an in-network provider, including Well Connection, for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 services. This is for both BCBSMA and HUGHP members (see note about out-of-network behavioral health services above).
Express Scripts, provider of pharmacy benefits for all Harvard medical plans, offers home delivery for medications.
Medial plans continue to evaluate the situation; be sure to check back for updates (posted 3/16/2020).
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, with higher out-of-pocket costs.
Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)
Available only to employees who reside outside New England through BCBSMA. Go to any health care professional you choose inside or outside your network without a PCP referral. You will have higher out-of-pocket costs for out-of-network care.
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.)
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.
Available only to employees who reside outside New England through BCBSMA. Same benefits as the PPO, but with higher premiums and a higher out-of-pocket maximum in exchange for no deductible or coinsurance for in-network services.
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 2020.
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.
Prescription Copayment Assistance Program: Starting January 1, 2021, Harvard will offer a new program through PillarRx Consulting, a prescription benefit consulting firm, which finds co-pay assistance programs that may be available from drug manufacturers for certain specialty medications. If you are prescribed an eligible medication, you will be contacted by PillarRx to facilitate enrollment in the manufacturer programs. To use the program, you must enroll and fill the prescription through Accredo, ESI’s specialty pharmacy. (Please note: Manufacturer assistance dollars may not accumulate toward deductibles and/or out-of-pocket maximums.)
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/weight-loss reimbursement benefit
HUGHP and BCBSMA provide members with a reimbursement of up $150 per year toward membership at gyms/fitness facility or eligible weight-loss program. For 2020 only, this benefit has been extended to cover cardiovascular-related online fitness class subscriptions and new or used home exercise equipment purchases (such as treadmills, stationary bikes, and stepping, elliptical and rowing machines). Check with your health plan provider for details about eligible expenses and reimbursement instructions. Español - Solicitud de reembolso por acondicionamiento físico.
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 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.
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|
|Knee or shoulder arthroscopy||$50-$250|
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.
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 2019, indicating that coverage meets the ACA's "Minimum Essential Coverage." 2019 forms were mailed in February. 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: