Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Health Care in the New Year

Without a contract, NYU can make whatever changes it wishes to our working conditions and our compensation. Of course, it did this when we had a contract as well, but then we filed greivences and could address these issues. So what new problems have we encountered at the start of this academic year? Like for workers all across the country, NYU has reduced health care benefits for graduate employees. Changes include:

  • Perscription co-pays for many drugs have increase to $45 a month (which is in an increase of 30% from last year and 125% from 2 years ago). This means an out-of-pocket cost of $540 a year for those taking just one medicine.
  • Specialty services now require co-pays; they did not previously.
  • Many diagnostic tests, including some important screening tests for sexually transmitted diseases, are no longer fully covered. Copays have increased from nothing to 20% for radiological services like x-rays, mammograms, and MRIs.

In fact, some of these changes took place over the summer and without notice, leaving graduate employees with unexpected medical debt.

Those affiliated with NYU might be aware of a change in on-campus health services reducing costs for some services obtained at the NYU student health center. The propganda sent out by NYU suggested that this change was made to better compensate their beloved graduate students. But don't be fooled. This change helps traditional-aged undergraduates who live on campus and does nothing for many graduate employees. Why? First of all, because it results in increases rather than decreases in costs for those who must seek their treatment off-campus because they live far from NYU's health center. Secondly, it does not improve coverage for many services that are more important for older students, including dependant-care coverage (NYU's on-campus health center is not fully staffed with pediatricians) and more complex specialty care. And finally, it was not in effect over the summer, when many graduate students seek to schedule health care needs so as to avoid interfearing with work responsibilities during the summer.

GSOC invites supporters to join us on Saturday, September 9th in the Annual New York City Labor Day Parade. GSOCers will be marching in the UAW contingent, which will assemble on West 47th Street between 6th and 7th avenues at 2:45 PM.


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