Why are there different deadlines for health and dental insurance?

Date: February 2017


Dear Deans,

Why are the deadlines for opting out of Cornell’s health insurance and opting in for dental on different dates? I speculate that you think the extra time would be beneficial but it’s another date to keep track of. Why isn’t there a reminder email sent out a week before the deadline for dental?




Dear Flossy,

Insurance is a hot topic nationally right now, both because it can be very expensive and also because it can seem absurdly complicated! The health, vision, and dental plans offered by Cornell are tailored to our student population so they offer very good coverage for the services that students use most, and the costs tend to be lower than comparable plans on the marketplace. They are, however, subject to the same basic principles of all insurance policies where risk and costs are pooled across a population and coverage periods are defined in advance. 

The Student Health Plan (SHP) is required of all students who don’t meet the waiver requirements, and students are automatically enrolled unless they submit a valid waiver application. The dental and vision plans available to students are entirely optional. New students admitted for the spring 2017 semester had a common December 31 deadline to submit a waiver for the health plan and to enroll in the vision or dental plans. 

The enrollment deadlines for the 2017-18 academic year haven’t been released yet but I’ve shared your feedback with the Student Health Benefits office. They do send email reminders about the deadlines, and send postcards to new students, but I’ve also made a note to include the insurance enrollment and waiver deadlines in future weekly “Graduate School Announcements” newsletters in both August and December. I’m sure others will find this information helpful. Thanks for the suggestions!



Jason Kahabka
Associate Dean for Administration