new employee healthcare optionHealth reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) are a type of account-based health plan that employers can use to reimburse employees for their medical care expenses. Just like there are many types of qualified retirement plans, there are many types of HRAs. Effective January 1, the federal government has enacted new HRA rules that will be especially beneficial for small business owners in offering a new employee healthcare option.

Individual Coverage HRAs can now be used to reimburse premiums for individual health insurance chosen by an employee, in addition to other medical care expenses. This promotes employee and employer flexibility, while also maintaining the same tax-favored status for employer contributions toward a traditional group health plan.

The new rules also increase flexibility in employer-sponsored insurance by creating another, limited type 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 (e.g. to help cover copays, deductibles or other expenses not covered by the primary plan) even if the employee declines enrollment in the group plan.

Want more information on this new employee healthcare option? This HRA document from the U.S. Department for Human & Health Services may be helpful. You can also your advisor with any questions.