The Rise of Health Reimbursement Arrangements: What You Need to Know

The Rise of Health Reimbursement Arrangements: What You Need to Know

In recent years, the healthcare landscape has undergone significant changes, with employers and employees alike seeking innovative solutions to manage healthcare costs. One trend that has gained popularity is the use of Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs), a type of benefit plan that allows employers to provide tax-free reimbursements to employees for qualified medical expenses. In this article, we’ll delve into the world of HRAs, exploring their benefits, advantages, and what you need to know to make the most of this valuable employee benefit.

What is a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA)?

A Health Reimbursement Arrangement is a type of benefit plan that allows employers to contribute a set amount of money to an employee’s account each year. The employee can then use this money to pay for qualified medical expenses, such as doctor visits, prescriptions, and health insurance premiums. HRAs are funded by the employer, and the employee has control over how the funds are used.

Benefits of HRAs

So, why are HRAs gaining popularity? Here are some key benefits:

  1. Cost savings: HRAs can help reduce healthcare costs for both employers and employees. By providing a set amount of money for medical expenses, employers can incentivize employees to make more cost-effective healthcare decisions.
  2. Flexibility: HRAs offer employees more flexibility in how they use their healthcare benefits. With an HRA, employees can choose to use their funds to pay for a range of medical expenses, rather than being limited to a specific plan or provider.
  3. Portability: HRAs are portable, meaning that employees can take their HRA funds with them if they change jobs or retire.
  4. Tax benefits: Contributions to an HRA are tax-deductible for the employer, and the employee does not have to pay taxes on the funds until they are used to pay for medical expenses.

Types of HRAs

There are several types of HRAs, each with its own unique features and benefits:

  1. Traditional HRAs: This type of HRA is funded by the employer and allows employees to use their funds to pay for qualified medical expenses.
  2. Individual Coverage HRAs (ICHRA): This type of HRA is designed for employees who have individual health insurance plans. The HRA funds can be used to pay for medical expenses not covered by the employee’s plan.
  3. Integrated HRAs: This type of HRA is integrated with a group health plan, allowing employees to use their HRA funds to pay for medical expenses in addition to their plan premiums.

What You Need to Know

Before implementing an HRA, here are some key things to consider:

  1. Eligibility: Determine which employees are eligible to participate in the HRA. Typically, this includes full-time and part-time employees, but not dependents or spouses.
  2. Funding: Decide how much to contribute to each employee’s HRA account. This can be a fixed amount, a percentage of the employee’s salary, or a combination of both.
  3. Plan design: Choose a plan design that aligns with your company’s goals and budget. Consider factors such as the types of medical expenses that can be reimbursed, the carryover policy, and the plan’s administrative fees.
  4. Communication: Communicate the HRA plan to employees, including the funding, eligibility, and plan design. This is crucial to ensure employees understand how the plan works and how to use their funds.
  5. Compliance: Ensure that your HRA plan complies with relevant laws and regulations, such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).


Health Reimbursement Arrangements are a valuable employee benefit that can help reduce healthcare costs, increase employee flexibility, and provide tax benefits. By understanding the benefits, types, and key considerations of HRAs, employers can create a comprehensive benefits package that meets the needs of their employees. As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, HRAs are likely to play an increasingly important role in helping employers and employees navigate the complex world of healthcare.

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