As graduate workers at Johns Hopkins’ Krieger School of Arts and Sciences you can’t afford to get sick. Despite our status as a top US institution, our healthcare plan is so poor that we cannot afford to take care of ourselves in the most routine of ways. For many of us, a $1,000 hospitalization co-pay is financially catastrophic. It means that that month we cannot pay our rent, feed ourselves adequately or pay our bills. Although this sounds extreme, it is easy to suddenly find yourselves in this position.
Is Johns Hopkins not supposed to be the best hospital in the country?
Yes. A terrible hypocrisy is at the heart of the university. JHU is a world class research institution and is renowned for its contributions to the health and medical sciences. Hopkins Medicine boasts on its website that it is “a $7.7 billion integrated global health enterprise and one of the leading health care systems in the United States”, pledging to “deliver the promise of medicine” and improve the health of the community. The truth is, “the promise” of medicine is kept securely out of the reach of graduate workers.
What has TRU done about this
Comparison with peer institutions
For months, graduate student members of TRU have engaged their peers in conversations around their experiences with the university. We have heard horror stories. The JHU administration justifies the prohibitively high copays of graduate student health insurance by maintaining that its health insurance plan is comparable to peer institutions. We examined the health insurance plans at peer institutions and found that nearly all have substantially lower costs than the JHU plan. The JHU healthcare plan at Homewood has a high out-of-pocket maximum (at $5,250, more than three quarters of peer institutions), a high deductible (of $75, while Yale, Notre Dame, and Stanford among others pay $0), and a high co-pay. Co-pay for a $5,000 hospitalization would cost a JHU graduate student $1,060, while students at Carnegie Mellon, MIT, and Harvard would pay less than $200. These costs may mean that we cannot pay our rent, feed ourselves adequately, or pay our bills for that month. You can find more details about how JHU healthcare plan compares with peer institutions here LINK TO REPORT.
Through months of conversations with our peers, we drafted a list of demands that reflected our peers’ main concerns with the existing healthcare plan. In May 2017, TRU delivered graduate students’ demands to President Daniels. We also delivered over 100 alumni signatures in support, and more than 500 postcards signed by graduate students.
In just the past year, TRU has gotten big concessions from the administration:
- The implementation of an 8-week parental leave policy in July 1, 2017 (with full tuition and stipend benefits), so we don't have to choose between our careers and our families
- 100% coverage of Urgent Care expenses, with a waived deductible. We shouldn’t have to hesitate to get the emergency care we need!
- The creation of a new administrative working group on grad student healthcare, with whom TRU will continue to work to improve conditions for JHU grads.