NASE News

Legislation Introduced To Allow For HRAs

Last week in congress, Reps. Charles Boustany (R-La.) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) in the U.S. House and Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) in the U.S. Senate introduced bipartisan legislation, Small Business Healthcare Relief Act (S. 1697/H.R. 2911). The legislation would enable small businesses to continue to use Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs), which allow employers to provide pre-tax dollars to employees to pay for medical care and services.

In 2013, the Internal Revenue Service issued guidance dictating that all employers that fail to offer a group health plan, but provide tax preferred dollars through an HRA for their workers to pay health insurance premiums or other direct medical expenses, will be fined $100 per day, per employee. Over the course of a year, that’s $36,500 per employee and up to $500,000 in total. This $100 per day penalty went into effect on July 1, 2015.

The Small Business Healthcare Relief Act will allow small businesses that are not subject to the shared responsibility provision to provide HRAs to help their workers and families pay for premiums and/or other medical expenses. This provides small employers with necessary additional flexibility and allows those small companies – the majority of whom do not have human resource departments or benefits specialists – a simpler, easier way to help their employees with rising medical costs.

This is a bipartisan opportunity to improve affordable health care options for small businesses, and we urge Congress to move swiftly to pass this vital legislation so that more small employers can help their workers defray the high cost of insurance premiums and/or other out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Only July 1st, the IRS started enforcing the new rule that fined small businesses $100 a day fine per employee on small businesses that offer traditional health reimbursement accounts (HRAs).