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HR Insurance Benefits

Eligibility for benefits is determined by postdoctoral classification as summarized below.



The 2018-2019 benefits below are for Research Fellows (9132) and Postdoctoral Scholars, Research (9145), who are classified as employees.

Heath Insurance

  • Employee Health Insurance
  • Enrollment required within 30 days of hire date
  • Coverage begins on start date of appointment
  • If your home department is VU, details located at: VU Human Resources
  • If your home department is VUMC, details located at: VUMC Human Resources

The following additional benefits are available

  • Dental Insurance
  • Vision Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D)
  • Short-term Disability
  • Long-term Disability
  • Flexible Spending Accounts
  • Health Reimbursement Account (VU only)
  • Retirement Plan 403(b)

These additional benefits are provided through either VU or VUMC Human Resources Department.

Questions?  Contact the appropriate human resources department.

Postdoc Trainee Benefits:  2019-2020


Non-employee postdocs (i.e., VU Postdoctoral Scholar, Trainee) on training and fellowship grants (for whom no FICA is withheld) are eligible for the VU Postdoc Trainee Health Insurance Plan. The health insurance plan is administered by Gallagher Student Health and Risk and is Affordable Care Act compliant with a metallic (top) rating of platinum. For additional information, see 2019-2020 Health Insurance Plan Design Changes below.

Dates of coverage are August 12, 2019 to August 11, 2020.

All individuals who wish to waive coverage are required to complete an online waiver form by August 31, 2019 (or within 30 days of their hire date) or will remain enrolled in the plan and will be responsible for the insurance premium.

VU Postdoctoral Scholar Trainees have access to the Postdoc Wellness Program of Work/Life Connections-EAP, as well as Occupational Health. Additional details are available on the Postdoc Health & Wellness Resources page.  Postdocs are not eligible to use the services at the Student Health Center (SHC).


Postdoc Enrollment

  • All VU Postdoctoral Scholar, Trainees will be enrolled in the VU Postdoc Trainee Health Insurance Plan during the initial open enrollment period. There is no action on the part of postdocs to meet the August 12 enrollment deadline. Enrollment is handled by the Graduate School’s Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) who is working with department administrators. You will not incur an interruption for your individual coverage. Please note, however, if you have dependents you do need to take action by September 12, 2019 (see below).
  • The initial open enrollment period is for an effective date of August 12, 2019. The deadline to enroll is August 31, 2019.
  • Postdocs who begin employment after the initial open enrollment period, must enroll for health insurance within 30 days of the hire date. To enroll: Contact your department staff administrator who must submit a Benefits Action Form to Irene McKirgan.
  • Postdocs are not billed directly for health insurance. Your department is billed.
  • The BAF is required for payment of premiums.


Enrolling Dependents

Postdocs may enroll their eligible dependents with an additional cost. Eligible dependents include:

  • A married spouse (husband and wife) or children (under the age of 26).
  • Domestic partners (same sex or opposite) are not covered.
  • Postdocs must enroll eligible dependents each year. Dependents are not automatically enrolled. 
  • The deadline to enroll dependents for initial, open enrollment is September 12, 2019. To enroll eligible dependents, go to and click on “Dependent Enroll.” 
  • After the initial open enrollment period, postdocs must enroll dependents within two weeks of the effective start date on the BAF that your department administrator submits to OPA.
  • Postdocs are not billed directly for dependent health insurance coverage. Your department is billed.

Coverage for eligible dependents must be purchased for the same time period as the postdocs’ period of coverage and cannot exceed coverage purchased by the postdoc. For example, an individual enrolled for annual coverage has to purchase annual coverage for a dependent unless a qualifying event occurs (see Qualifying Events section below)


Benefits & Premium

  • The VU Postdoc Trainee Health Insurance Plan will provide coverage from August 12, 2019 to August 11, 2020.
  • Visit Gallagher’s Postdoctoral Trainee web portal to review detailed information about your benefits and coverage.


2019-2020 Postdoc Rates

Programs/departments are billed for postdoc health insurance on a quarterly basis ($907.50 per quarter):

  • Q1:  8/12/19 – 11/11/19
  • Q2:  11/12/19 – 2/11/20
  • Q3:  2/12/20 – 5/11/20
  • Q4:  5/12/20 – 8/11/20


     Postdoc Plan

     Annual Rate

      Postdoc Only




      One Child


      Two or More Children


      Spouse and Two or More Children 



To Terminate Coverage

  • The VU Postdoc Trainee Health Insurance Plan is an annual policy with four termination dates: December 31, April 30, May 30 and August 11.
  • Termination can be accommodated other than the end of the quarterly period by crediting a monthly rate.
  • To terminate coverage: Department administrators must complete a Benefits Action Form (BAF) and submit to Irene McKirgan. Your department will continue to be charged until a termination BAF is received.


Qualifying Events

Postdoctoral Scholar Trainees can also add eligible dependent(s) if they experience one of the following qualifying events: (a) marriage, (b) birth of a child, (c) divorce, (d) if the dependent is entering the country for the first time, or (e) the dependent loses coverage under another health insurance. If the individual experiences one of these qualifying events, the Dependent Enrollment Form, supporting documentation, and payment must be received by Gallagher Student Health & Special Risk within 31 days of the qualifying event. Forms received more than 31 days after the qualifying event will not be processed. Once a dependent is enrolled, coverage cannot be terminated unless the individual loses eligibility. The premium is pro-rated based on the date coverage begins. 


Optional Dental & Vision Insurance

  • Voluntary supplemental dental and vision coverage is available to postdocs. Postdocs are responsible for enrolling in this optional coverage and for making payments directly.  
  • If you are currently enrolled in the 2018-2019 dental plan, you do not need to enroll for 2019-2020.  Unless you stop paying the premium, coverage will continue.  If you do stop paying premiums, there is a one year waiting period before you can re-enroll.
  • Postdocs do not need to be enrolled in Gallagher's health insurance to be eligible to purchase voluntary dental & vision coverage.
  • Enrollment is open all year and can be cancelled at any time.
  • Coverage starts the first day of the following month after enrolling.  Payment is required on the 20th of each month.
  • For 2019-2020, postdocs can enroll in one or both plans (dental and/or vision)


    Dental Monthly Rate   Vision Monthly Rate
  Individual   $31.27   $10.98
  Individual +1   $62.54   $20.20
  Family   $100.05   $30.19



2019-2020 Health Insurance Plan Design Changes

If you are a returning postdoc, please be aware of the following plan design changes for the 2019-2020 policy year:

  • The In-Network (UHC Options PPO) coinsurance will change from 85% to 80% and the Out-of-Network coinsurance will change from 65% to 60%. The coinsurance for the Vanderbilt University Medical Center (preferred provider) will remain at 90%. 
  • Coverage through the VU Postdoctoral Trainees Health Insurance Plan:
    • Is fully compliant with the Affordable Care Act and all other federal and state mandates.
    • Offers comprehensive benefits that include hospital room and board, inpatient and outpatient surgical procedures, labs and x-rays, chemotherapy and radiation, inpatient and outpatient mental health services, physician office visits, consultant visits, ambulance, emergency care, and prescription drugs.
    • Includes Preventive Care Services that are available at no cost sharing when received from an In-Network Provider.
    • After the $250 per person per policy year deductible, Preferred Providers (VUMC) are generally covered at 90%; and In-Network (UHC Options PPO) providers are generally covered at 80%.
    • After the $500 Out-of-Network per person per policy year deductible, providers are generally covered at 60%.
    • After a separate $100 pharmacy per policy year deductible, you will pay a $15 copayment for a generic drug, a $50 copayment for a brand name drug, and a $75 copayment for a brand name drug which have a generic equivalent at participating retail pharmacies.

A full plan description of benefits and limitations, and exclusions, Frequently Asked Questions, and links to provider look-up, pharmacy, and claims information are available at




The 2018-2019 benefits below are for VUMC Postdoctoral Scholar Trainees, who are not classified as employees.

Dates of coverage are October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019.


Plan Administrator: Garnett-Powers/Insurance Carrier: Aetna

Detailed information is located at: Garnett-Powers & Associates - The Vanderbilt University Postdoctoral Trainee Benefits Program.


Monthly Garnett-Powers Rates:  2018-2019

Coverage Tier Benefits Package w/Dental HMO Benefits Package w/Dental PPO
Postdoc Only $534.55 $547.77
Postdoc + Spouse $1,234.11 $1,260.12
Postdoc + Child $1,103.77 $1,136.93
Family $1,781.98 $1,831.48



All postdoctoral trainees enrolled in this benefits package are given the option of buying-up into the Aetna PPO 90/70 Health Insurance Plan for a small monthly premium. Many postdocs have asked if their grant/department will pay for the buy-up premiums, if the funds are available. Since the Graduate School cannot be invoiced for postdoc buy-up premiums, you must discuss this option with your respective department. If approved, each department will determine how they wish to handle payment.

Please note: If Garnett-Powers does not receive payment for the buy-up premium by the scheduled due dates, the trainee's benefits will terminate and they will not be able to re-enroll until the next open enrollment period in the fall. Reimbursement/payment of the postdoc premium on behalf of the trainee is to be negotiated between the department and the trainee.


Optional Monthly Aetna Buy-Up PPO 90/70

(Postdoc responsible for enrolling and making payments)

Coverage Tier Monthly Buy-Up Premium
Postdoc only $37.15
Postdoc + Spouse $86.23
Postdoc + Child $76.18
Family $123.38


Optional Vision

(Postdoc responsible for enrolling and making payments)

Coverage Tier Monthly Premium
Postdoc only $8.93
Postdoc + Spouse $17.86
Postdoc + Child $19.64
Family $28.57


Life, ADD Coverage $4.45
LTD Coverage $3.15


If a postdoctoral trainee chooses to participate in the optional vision plan or Aetna Buy-up plan, they are responsible for enrolling and making payments as necessary to Garnett-Powers.