Health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) are a type of account-based health plan that employers can use to reimburse employees for their medical care expenses.
New rules released by the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury permit employers to offer a new “individual coverage HRA” as an alternative to traditional group health plan coverage, subject to certain conditions. Among other medical care expenses, individual coverage HRAs can be used to reimburse premiums for individual health insurance chosen by the employee, promoting employee and employer flexibility, while also maintaining the same tax-favored status for employer contributions towards a traditional group health plan.
The new rules also increase flexibility in employer-sponsored insurance by creating another, limited kind of HRA that can be offered in addition to a traditional group health plan. These “excepted benefit HRAs” permit employers to finance additional medical care (for example to help cover the cost of copays, deductibles, or other expenses not covered by the primary plan) even if the employee declines enrollment in the traditional group health plan.