The University requires all graduate students to have adequate insurance. There are two levels of insurance that students can choose through the University: basic and comprehensive. The Astronomy Department pays for the cost of the basic level of insurance, whereas the comprehensive costs $800* more spread over the two semesters. Comprehensive insurance, as the name suggests, provides you with smaller co-pays, larger percentage of coverage on medical expenses and more.

Between September 1st and September 30th of each year, you must choose which insurance policy you want. If you do not choose during this time, you will be defaulted to basic coverage. You *cannot* enroll in comprehensive after September 30th, so don't even try. In order to enroll, please visit this page.

*GSAS should cover half of the difference between the two plans. As of Fall 2015, the total cost of the opgrade is $1,266, but you should only have pay $633 (Aleksey).

Added by Cameron.

Currently, Columbia University's health insurance is done through Aetna Student Health Insurance which is a national group health insurance program negotiated separately by each university. Our university has negotiated to allow all graduate students to be covered under the basic coverage for a fee that is paid for by the department. For additional money a year (always going up, of course) you can purchase comprehensive coverage which has greater benefits coverage especially in the areas of prescriptions, physical therapy, and counseling. Dental coverage is available for an additional money per year.

Spouses and domestic partners can obtain health coverage at the basic level at an expense of about 3 grand per year. Comperhensive coverage is not available for spouses or domestic partners. Additionally. your entire family can receive dental coverage for a total of about $1000. (Probably not worth it unless you've got a giant family or are expecting that everyone is going to have a lot of dental work done this year).

Added by Josh

The university health insurance actually ends August 31st*, and you are technically not insured until you opt in to one of the coverage plans or the end of September when you are automatically enrolled in the basic coverage. At that point they do back-date your coverage, however for the month of September you may have to cover expenses yourself (i.e. for prescriptions) and then submit receipts to get reimbursed (

*As of 2015 this was was moved back to August 14th. The deadline enroll is still September 30th.

Added by Kathryn

Extraction of impacted wisdom teeth is covered by the Columbia medical insurance (with a limit for the basic one), but not by the optional Aetna dental plan. Make sure that you get a referral from your doctor at Columbia health service. Also note that Aetna may promise to cover 100% of everything when you call them before the surgery and then refuse to cover 100% of the sedation of the surgery after they receive the bill. I do not have a solution to this. Maybe you can try to ask the dentist to send one bill instead of two separate bills for the extraction and the sedation.

Added by Yuan

You can get 40% discount for purchasing eyeglass frames or sunglasses with your *MEDICAL* plan. Discounts are also available for eyeglass lenses. Don't need a vision plan.

Added by Joo

With your medical plan (no need a dental plan), Morningside Dental Associate provides dental check-up including X-ray and cleaning with $20 co-payment once a year. If your dependents are enrolled in your medical plan, they can have the same service as well. Call them to make an appointment. 212-865-8467, 1244 Amsterdam Ave. (at 121st St.)

Added by Joo

Family / Spouse / Baby stuff

If you are ensuring a dependent through the University, be savvy. Often, the New York state coverage (child health plus) is cheaper, and our thrilling salaries as graduate students make the monthly payments reasonable. The department does share the premiums of a dependent, but it (in the past) has been more expensive out of pocket (and frankly, not great). If you do go on the University insurance with a dependent, be warned. The renewal is NOT on the calendar year, but twice (once in Sept, and once in January). And, as of last disaster, they did not send any sort of reminder or renewal notice. NOTE: This is extra confusing because this split enrollment DOES NOT occur the first year (which starts whenever the baby is born until the following September). So you won't see it coming. Which makes it extra awesome.

Added by Sarah.

Similar issues occur if you have a dependent spouse. When you enroll the first time you have to go to Wien hall and show paperwork that the of spouse-ness like a marriage license. I think the graduate school pays half.

Please note that things that we do at the John Jay health clinic like preventive care is not included in the dependent plan. To make a annual physical cost about $1000 and the Insurance pays nothing. Be extra paranoid and ask in advanced before you do anything on the dependent plan.

Added by Andreas.

If you are enrolling your baby (perhaps wife as well..) to the dependent plan, what you need is "Graduate Subsidy Dependent Enrollment Application". When I called Aetna, they sent me "Dependent Enrollment Application", which is USELESS for you, at the beginning and I got rejection of the application. I have talked to Millie, the Associate Dean, and the supervisor of Aetna customer service and it took 3 weeks to find out what was wrong. So irritating... Make sure you have the right form.

Added by Joo

Parents who are fully funded Ph.D. or D.M.A. candidates in a program in the Arts and Sciences are eligible to receive a $1,000 subsidy for each child who qualifies by being under the age of five (5) and not yet attending Kindergarten. Interested students should apply using the form that may be found here

Added by Lia