Question: Can you discuss how an HRA (not HSA, but HRA) account affects the plans you can select and any financial assistance it may affect.
Answer: A health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) is an agreement between employer and employee to reimburse out-of-pocket medical expenses. The idea being that the employer can save money on insurance costs by purchasing a high-deductible (cheaper) health plan. Then compensate the employees for the loss in benefits by reimbursing their out-of-pocket expenses not covered by the group health plan or expenses subject to the deductible. HRA's are very flexible. They can be all-inclusive to cover any tax-deductible medical, dental, or vision expense or very limited - for example only covering the first $100 in expenses annually. As a IRS approved employee benefit plan, HRA's deliver tax benefits for both employer and employee, that is: the employer's payments are tax deductible and the employee reimbursements are pre-tax benefits.
The IRS requires that the HRA be combined with a fully-funded group health insurance policy. You cannot receive the tax benefits associated with an HRA if you create a stand-alone HRA - one designed to work with individual health insurance coverage. Only HRA plans that are attached to a conforming group plan can be used going forward.