Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Battle of the FAQs

Despite a surprisingly moderate tone in parts, much in the Chancellor's new set of FAQs for employees will be frightening to many--that's what they are supposed to be.

The unions have tried to provide full information on health insurance (especially the complications of COBRA)--and we are working on a still more detailed response there.

Some items affecting GAs are particularly scary looking. I know that some GAs have been asking faculty about this, so I'll call to your attention the response now posted on the GA United website, which offers particularly important reassurance re tuition waivers.


  1. For over a year, I've heard from grad students that they wanted "better health insurance." I asked what that would be and the usual answer was "like what they got at U of I - coverage for dependents, dental." So I look up U of I coverage and someone with a spouse (or one dependent) pays $6,000/year for that insurance and $8,000 if you are a student with two others in your household.

    I asked GAU president and they said they were looking at various plans out there. He was busy and couldn't get into a discussion but it's that kind of vague answer union members get before, during and after they are being scared into action.

    As always, if any one has INFORMATION, all the better. If that information comes from management, so be it. Sometimes they provide it more quickly than others. For example, I knew the insurance losses of a strike but didn't recall that I could lose my $5,000 medical savings plan for my daughter's braces this fall!

  2. Actually graduate students at U of I Urbana pay $319/ semester for themselves, $1253 for a spouse and $624 for children. GAs are automatically ( and free of charge) enrolled in Dental and Vision insurance through the Grad College. At U of I Chicago GAs pay $403/ semester ( $125 of it is waived as per the collective bargaining agreement)for themselves, $1068 for spouses and $538 for ALL children. Again dental and vision insurance is provided by the Graduate College and is free of charge. It is interesting to note that both the health insurance at U of I Chicago and SIUC are both classed as " self-managed plans" and as such are likely exempt from the Affordable Care Act. Although the jury is still out on that one at Chicago the university administration has recently decided to voluntarily follow the Act regardless, noting that it has a moral duty to do so- giving all students access to quality, affordable health care which insures they can graduate without worrying about bankruptcy due to a serious medical condition etc....

  3. Surely, UofIGrad, you are not suggesting that Dr. Bean was mistaken in his INFORMATION!

    Haven't you heard? Only the unions send around false or misleading INFORMATION.

  4. "Only the unions send around false or misleading information."

    Thank you, Jonathan, for confiriming what most people already know.

  5. OK, I add up those three amounts

    "$319/ semester for themselves, $1253 for a spouse and $624 for children" and I get $2196 per semester. I presume you must pay for both semesters and the summer = $6600 for student, spouse, one child.

    Is that right?

  6. Yes and no. GAs at U of I Urbana receive a 75% contribution towards the cost of the health care premium- so most pay only $80 a semester- meaning it would total $1957/ semester. That covers ALL children. are lower costs for summer semester. Whatever the total cost- its nowhere close to $8000/ year.
    I guess though we are missing the point- we at U of I have a CHOICE to buy this insurance for our families, regardless of how expensive it is for the students themselves. At SIUC it's not even offered- despite health insurance being required for spouses and dependents before ISS will issue an I-20 for a green card.So SIUC says you HAVE to buy insurance or we won't let you in, but won't actually offer it.


I will review and post comments as quickly as I can. Comments that are substantive and not vicious will be posted promptly, including critical ones. "Substantive" here means that your comment needs to be more than a simple expression of approval or disapproval. "Vicious" refers to personal attacks, vile rhetoric, and anything else I end up deeming too nasty to post.