Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangements and ERISA
By Danielle Capilla, Chief Compliance Officer for United Benefit Advisors
Certain small employers have the option to reimburse individual health coverage premiums up to a dollar limit through Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangements (QSE HRAs) under the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act).
The Cures Act amends the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to exclude QSE HRAs from the ERISA definition of group health plan; however, the Cures Act does not specifically exclude QSE HRAs from the rest of ERISA.
Small employers that plan to offer QSE HRAs should be cautious before presuming that ERISA would not apply to a reimbursement arrangement. Because QSE HRAs are new, the issue of whether the remainder of ERISA applies to QSE HRAs remains undetermined by an administrative agency or court. In consideration of the limited ERISA group health definition exclusion and the law's legislative history, a risk-averse small employer should treat a QSE HRA as an employee welfare benefit plan covered under ERISA and comply with applicable ERISA requirements such as having a written plan document and summary plan description as well as following ERISA's fiduciary and other rules.
Request UBA’s Compliance Advisor, “Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangements and ERISA” for a discussion of ERISA’s definitions of “group health plan,” as well as the law’s legislative history governing exclusions. A small employer who intends to offer a QSE HRA without complying with ERISA's employee welfare benefit plan requirements should consult with its attorney before proceeding.
- For a comprehensive chart that compares eligibility criteria, contribution rules, reimbursement rules, reporting requirements, privacy requirements, applicable fees, non-discrimination rules and other characteristics of account-based plans, request UBA’s Compliance Advisor, “HRAs, HSAs, and Health FSAs – What’s the Difference?”.
- For information on modest contribution strategies that are still driving enrollment in HSA and HRA plans, read our breaking news release.
- For a detailed look at the prevalence and enrollment rates among HSA and HRA plans by industry, region and group size, view UBA’s "Special Report: How Health Savings Accounts Measure Up", to understand which aspects of these accounts are most successful, and least successful.
- For fast facts about HSA and HRA plans, including the best and worst plans, average contributions made by employers, and industry trends, download (no form!) “Fast Facts: HSAs vs. HRAs”.