By Pension and Benefits Editorial Staff
If properly regulated and implemented, access to new health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) options will give employers and consumers more choices on where to get their health insurance. That’s according to comments submitted by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) in response to the proposed rules that would expand the permitted uses of HRAs. The rules, which were published on October 29, 2018, would allow employers to integrate HRAs with individual health insurance coverage when certain conditions are met.
“With proper safeguards and careful planning, HRAs will create new opportunities for businesses of all sizes to offer new coverage options to their employees while strengthening the individual market with new potential enrollees. However, enforceable safeguards and non-discrimination protections are essential for these options to work for Americans. Clear rules on when an HRA can be offered, what types of plans can be purchased using these funds and on what terms will be key,” AHIP wrote in its comments to the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury.
AHIP offered the following recommendations on how these new arrangements can best expand choice and competition while protecting consumers and the individual and employer health insurance markets, providing patients more choices, and strengthening the health care system:
- protect consumers by strengthening non-discrimination protections and ensuring access to comprehensive health coverage,
- maintain market stability and prohibit the use of Integrated HRAs to purchase short-term limited duration insurance (STLDI),
- take steps to protect employer provided coverage and supplemental benefit offerings,
- ensure coverage is affordable for employees,
- preserve HIPAA excepted benefits, and
- allow adequate time to implement new arrangements.
AHIP notes that the effective date in the proposed rules is insufficient to allow integrated HRAs to be properly designed, offered and administered. The organization recommends the effective date be no earlier than January 1, 2021, or 18 months following publication of the final rule, whichever is later.
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