Contact Benefit Services

East Hill Office Building, Suite 130
395 Pine Tree Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
(607) 255-3936

NYSHIP Contact Information

Important Phone Numbers (pdf)

New York State Health Insurance Program (Contract College)

Contract college faculty and staff (including Cooperative Extension) are eligible to participate in the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP). Contract college faculty and staff are also eligible to enroll their domestic partners (same or opposite sex and their dependents) in NYSHIP. You must enroll within the first 56 days of your employment or date of benefits eligibility, with coverage beginning on the 57 day. If coverage is requested after 56 days, a 10-week waiting period will apply and the health insurance premiums will be deducted from your pay on an after-tax basis for the remainder of the calendar year. The New York State Department of Civil Service requires two advance premiums for health insurance to provide you with 28 days of coverage following termination. These advance premiums will be a double deduction of one current payroll premium and one advance premium. New York State pays most of the cost of your coverage. Your portion of the premium depends on whether you elect individual or family coverage. You may choose from two options: The Empire Plan or a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) in your geographic area that has been approved for participation in NYSHIP.

The Empire Plan

The plan provides hospital and related expense coverage through Empire Blue Cross for medically necessary elective, emergency or urgent care as long as your stay has been precertified. Medical/surgical benefits are provided through United HealthCare, administrator for Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, for a copayment, paid directly to the provider, when you choose a participating provider. If you obtain services from a non-participating provider, you must pay the provider directly and then be reimbursed by United HealthCare for covered services, subject to a deductible and applicable coinsurance. Optumhealth administers Mental Health and Substance Abuse services. CVS Caremark administers prescription drug benefits.

The HMO Option

An HMO provides health care services under the supervision of a primary care physician. In addition to the premium, there may be plan copayments. This option is available to you if you live or work within the HMO’s geographic service area. You are eligible for enrollment in HMO Blue CNY if you live or work in any of the following counties: Broome, Cayuga, Chemung, Cortland, Onondaga, Oswego, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins. Other HMO options are available for employees in other areas of the state and MVP if you live or work in any of the following counties: Broome, Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Herkimer, Fefferson, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Otsego, Oswego, Tompkins and Tioga counties.

When you join an HMO, you agree to receive care from doctors and hospitals associated with the HMO. All primary care must be performed by or referred by your primary care physician.

Dental Coverage

If you are eligible for NYSHIP, you are also eligible for the NYSHIP dental insurance. You, your spouse/domestic partner/dependent children become eligible on the first of the month following six full months of active employment. The State of New York pays the full cost of this coverage, but you must enroll to participate in the plan. Coverage is provided through EmblemHealth (formerly GHI) (category 954, group # 1199-0001). Benefits are paid according to a schedule of allowable charges and are subject to an annual deductible.

To access plan information, please follow the directions below under NYSHIP Online Instructions.

To access the dental provider directory:

  • Go to the EmblemHeath website
  • Click on Dental Coverage
  • Click on EmblemHealth
  • Click on the tab - Find a Doctor
  • Under Visitor Search; enter Zip Code, then click Search Providers.
  • Click on Find a Doctor, Search our Provider Directories
  • Scroll down the page to find Dental
  • Click on Dental Preferred

NYSHIP Online Instructions

You can access additional NYSHIP information though the Civil Service website at

  • Click on Employees
  • Click on State Government Employees
  • Under the heading Health Insurance and other Employee Benefits, click on New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP)
  • First time users will need to:
      1) Select “I am a New York State Active Employee" and click Continue
      2) Choose Management/Confidential (M/C); Legislature
      3) Select either Empire Plan Enrollee or HMO Enrollee (Note: If you are looking for dental providers, select Dental Enrollee; then Dental Benefits on the next page)
      4) Click Finish

Once you enter the information above, you will be able to access plan information including:

NYSHIP COBRA Extension Provisions Due to New York State Laws That Affect Health Insurance

COBRA eligibility is extended to 36 months for all: NYSHIP has taken steps to implement this law immediately. For anyone with a CAN/EXP effective 7/1/09 or later because of reaching the former 18 month COBRA maximum, Employee Benefits Division (EBD) is reactivating coverage automatically and adjusting the end date so that a bill will be generated. A personalized letter sent with the bill explains the change and the new end date, should they wish to keep the coverage. Going forward, EBD  will be re-calculating and changing end dates for current and future COBRA enrollees. Please call the New York State Department of Civil Service at 1 (800) 833-4344 and select the COBRA prompt.