Open Enrollment 2019

2019 Benefits Open Enrollment will be held October 31-November 14, 2018.

This is your annual opportunity to review your benefits options and choose the ones that best meet your needs.

Preview of Benefit Changes for 2019

For 2019, there will be several important benefits changes and a new Identity Theft Protection option available to all Harvard faculty and staff. In addition, there will be several health plan changes for Local 26 union members based on their most recent union contract.

Beginning January 1, 2019, Express Scripts will become Harvard's new pharmacy benefits administrator for the prescription benefit that is included with all Harvard-sponsored medical plans – for both active employees and retirees. In mid-December, all faculty and staff who are enrolled in a Harvard-sponsored medical plan will receive a welcome kit from Express Scripts, with a new pharmacy card, which should be used to fill prescriptions on or after January 1, 2019.

Express Scripts offers a user-friendly, online portal and 24/7 support as well as mail order pharmacy. The prescription copayment structure is not changing, although similar to most years, individual medications may change category (e.g., preferred to nonpreferred). Additional information on the transition to Express Scripts will be available in the coming months.

Identity Theft Protection from InfoArmor provides full identity monitoring, proactive alerts, and full-service restoration if your identity is stolen. This benefit is new for 2019. If you’re interested in taking advantage of this program, you must actively enroll during Open Enrollment and select coverage for you, or you and your family. Open Enrollment will be your only opportunity to enroll in this coverage for 2019. For more information, please refer to the Identity Theft Protection flyer (español).

The Supplemental Life Insurance benefit will add a new coverage level of 6x salary, up to new maximum coverage of $2.5 million. If you are capped at the current $1.25 million coverage maximum, you will receive information from Harvard about your new coverage amount and cost for 2019 under the new limit.

Special opportunity for Open Enrollment 2019: If you are currently enrolled in Supplemental Life Insurance (employee only, not dependents), you may increase your coverage by one level during this year's two-week Open Enrollment period without completing a Statement of Health. (You may increase your coverage by more than one level, but increase amounts above one level will require a Statement of Health (español) that must be approved by MetLife.)

For those currently enrolled in an HSA, beginning in 2019, your HSA elections will carry over from year to year, so no action is needed to continue your election for 2019 and you will automatically receive the Harvard contribution to this account.

If you want to open an HSA or if you want to change your contribution amount, you can do that during Open Enrollment. You must be enrolled in Harvard’s high deductible health plan (HDHP) in order to have an HSA.


Local 26 members will see a number of changes to health plans with the negotiation of their most recent contract. Below is an overview of the major changes:

  • Addition of a lower tier for medical premiums across all plans for those earning less than $55,000 (FTE) and adjustment of existing salary tiers:
    • Salary tier 1: less than $55,000 (new)
    • Salary tier 2: $55,000-$74,999
    • Salary tier 3: $75,000-$99,999
    • Salary tier 4: $100,000 and above
  • New copayments of $100 for certain hospital inpatient, emergency room and outpatient services and $50 for high-tech imaging, with a revised Copayment Reimbursement Plan to reflect new copayment costs
  • Adoption of the enhanced dental plan design (currently available to faculty. nonunion staff and members of most other bargaining units) that provides a second level of coverage when a participant reaches the Level 1 annual maximum of $3,000, providing financial protection for very high dental costs
  • Elimination of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care (HPHC) PPO option. Current participants, who do not make any changes, will be defaulted into the HPHC POS as of January 1, 2019. You may also choose to enroll in one of Harvard’s other available health plan options during Open Enrollment.
  • Increase in non-preventive office visit and therapy copayments to $25
  • Those who enroll or continue in a Harvard-sponsored HMO or POS plan for 2019, will receive a $275 contribution to a Health Care FSA to help pay for eligible out-of-pocket medical, dental, and vision care expenses for you and your eligible dependent(s)
  • A new Supplemental Health Care fund will also be available to help cover copayments for emergency room, hospital and high-tech imaging services; you must apply for reimbursement

Health Plan Rates

You can see 2019 rates by selecting the link below for your employee group: 

Learn more

Additional information will be provided beginning in mid-October to assist you in reviewing your options:

  • A comparison of the plan options, included in the 2019 Open Enrollment Guide, mailed to homes the week of October 15. (Remember – if you have moved, please update your address in PeopleSoft by September 28 to be sure you receive materials promptly.)
  • HARVie updates, including additional information from benefit plan providers
  • Ask Alex: Online tool to compare benefit options and costs for faculty, administrative/professional and nonunion staff - 2019 version available in October
  • Depending on your individual prescriptions needs, you may receive additional communications regarding the transition from Express Scripts, our new pharmacy benefit administrator


Did you know that prices for the same quality medical services, such as MRI, mammogram, colonoscopy and more, can vary by hundreds to thousands of dollars? SmartShopper, available beginning January 1, 2019, is a new service that provides Harvard employees with an easier way to shop for certain health care services, either online or by phone, and receive a financial incentive of up to $250 when you receive services at a preferred provider. Those enrolled in a Harvard-sponsored medical plan are eligible for this new program and no enrollment is required. (Note that the SmartShopper service is not available before January 1, 2019, so appointments that are made prior to this date may not qualify or may need to be rescheduled.) Look for more information in your Open Enrollment package.