What is an HRA and How does it Work?
A Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) is a type of employer-funded benefit plan designed to help employees cover eligible healthcare expenses. It provides a tax-advantaged way for employers to reimburse their employees for qualified medical expenses.
How does an HRA work? The employer sets up and funds the HRA, allocating a specific amount of money to each employee’s account. These funds are not considered part of the employee’s taxable income. When employees incur eligible healthcare expenses, they can submit a claim to the HRA for reimbursement.
Unlike a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), where employees contribute their own pre-tax dollars, HRAs are solely funded by the employer. This means that employers have greater control over the design and rules of the HRA, including which expenses are eligible for reimbursement.
The employer can determine the types of healthcare expenses that are covered by the HRA, such as deductibles, co-pays, prescription medications, and certain medical treatments. Additionally, employers can specify any limitations or exclusions in the plan, ensuring that the HRA aligns with their budget and benefit objectives.
Employees can access their HRA funds by submitting documentation of their eligible expenses, such as receipts or Explanation of Benefits (EOBs) from their insurance provider. The employer then reviews the claim and reimburses the employee from the HRA account.
It’s important to note that any unused funds in the HRA typically do not roll over to the next plan year. However, some employers may offer a carryover provision or allow a portion of the unused funds to be carried forward for future use.
In summary, an HRA is an employer-funded benefit plan that reimburses employees for qualified medical expenses. It provides a tax-advantaged way for employers to support their employees’ healthcare needs while maintaining control over the plan’s design and coverage. By utilizing an HRA, employees can effectively manage their healthcare costs and receive reimbursement for eligible expenses.