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02 April 2023

Blogkoopedia: The Benefits and Drawbacks of Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs)

Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs)

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs)

ealthcare costs continue to rise, and many employers are looking for ways to help employees manage their expenses while also managing costs. Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) are a popular healthcare benefit that can provide cost savings and flexibility for both employers and employees. In this article, we'll explore the benefits and drawbacks of HRAs as a healthcare benefit. And Understanding the Benefits and Drawbacks of Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) by reading this article!

Benefits of Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs)

A. Cost Savings 

One of the biggest benefits of HRAs is the potential for cost savings. Here are three ways that HRAs can help reduce healthcare costs:

  • Lower premiums for high deductible health plans: HRAs are typically paired with high deductible health plans (HDHPs), which can have lower premiums than traditional health plans. This can result in cost savings for both employers and employees.
  • Reduced out-of-pocket costs for employees: HRAs can help reduce out-of-pocket costs for employees by reimbursing them for eligible  healthcare expenses. This can include deductibles, co-pays, and other expenses not covered by insurance.
  • Lower administrative costs for employers: HRAs can be easier to administer than other healthcare benefits, such as traditional insurance plans. This can result in lower administrative costs for employers.

B. Tax Advantages 

Another benefit of HRAs is the tax advantages they offer. Here are two ways that HRAs can provide tax savings:

  • Employer contributions are tax-deductible: Employers can deduct contributions they make to HRAs as a business expense on their tax return. This can result in tax savings for the employer.
  • Employee reimbursements are tax-free: Employees do not have to pay taxes on reimbursements they receive from their HRA. This can result in tax savings for the employee.

C. Flexibility

One of the main advantages of HRAs is their flexibility. HRAs can be designed to meet the unique needs of the employer and employees. Here are some ways in which HRAs can be flexible:

    1. Customizable Benefit Amounts 

Employers can set different levels of reimbursement for different employees or groups of employees based on factors such as job level or family size. This allows employers to tailor the benefit to meet the needs of their workforce.

    2. Flexibility in Covered Expenses 

Employers can also customize the list of expenses that are eligible for reimbursement under the HRA. For example, some HRAs may cover expenses such as dental or vision care, while others may not.

    3. Portability 

HRAs can be designed to allow employees to take unused funds with them when they leave the company. This can be especially beneficial for employees who may be hesitant to use their HRA funds if they are concerned about losing them at the end of the year.

    4. Integration with Other Benefits 

HRAs can be integrated with other benefits, such as a high deductible health plan or a wellness program. This can create a comprehensive benefits package that meets the diverse needs of employees.

    5. Ability to Change 

Employers can change the HRA benefit from year to year, based on the needs of the company and employees. For example, an employer may decide to increase the reimbursement amount for a certain group of employees or add new eligible expenses.

HRAs offer flexibility in terms of benefit amounts, covered expenses, portability, integration with other benefits, and the ability to change. This flexibility allows employers to design a benefit that meets the unique needs of their workforce, while also providing a valuable tool for managing healthcare costs.

Drawbacks of Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs)

Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs)

While HRAs offer many benefits, there are also some drawbacks to consider. Here are three potential drawbacks of HRAs:

A. Limited Options 

One potential drawback of HRAs is that they are only available to employees with high deductible health plans. This can limit the options available to employees who may prefer other types of health plans. Additionally, employers have control over what expenses are reimbursed, which can limit employees' healthcare choices.

B. Complexity 

HRAs can be complex to set up and administer. Employers may need to invest time and resources into understanding and implementing the benefit. Additionally, employees may need education on how to use the benefit effectively, which can be time-consuming.

C. Employer Control 

Another potential drawback of HRAs is that employers have control over what expenses are reimbursed. This can limit employees' healthcare choices and may lead to employees feeling frustrated or dissatisfied with the benefit.

People Also Asked

Here are some common questions that people ask about HRAs:

    What is the difference between an HRA and an HSA? 
        Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and HRAs are both types of healthcare reimbursement arrangements. The main difference between the two is that HSAs are owned by the employee, while HRAs are owned by the employer.

    Can I use HRA funds for non-healthcare expenses? 
        No, HRA funds can only be used for eligible healthcare expenses.

    Can I roll over unused HRA funds to the next year? 
        It depends on the plan. Some HRAs allow for rollover of unused funds, while others do not.

    Can I use HRA funds for my spouse and dependents? 
        It depends on the plan. Some HRAs allow for reimbursement of expenses for spouses and dependents, while others do not.


In conclusion, HRAs offer many benefits as a healthcare benefit, including cost savings, tax advantages, and flexibility. However, there are also potential drawbacks to consider, such as limited options, complexity, and employer control. Before implementing HRAs as a healthcare benefit, it is important to consider the pros and cons and to educate employees on how to use the benefit effectively. Overall, HRAs can be a valuable tool for managing healthcare costs while also providing a valuable benefit to employees.

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