NFIB members stood alongside President Trump at the White House last Friday for a Rose Garden ceremony announcing a new health insurance option of great interest to small businesses. Employers will soon be able to offer expanded tax-preferred Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) for employees who receive individual health insurance coverage under a new final rule issued by the U.S. Departments of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services. Expanding coverage options for small businesses, while helping employees afford health insurance, is a win-win, especially for small business entrepreneurs.
NFIB has long been a vocal advocate of this expansion, which offers more small businesses additional options for providing affordable and flexible health insurance coverage. NFIB President and CEO Juanita D. Duggan noted, “We are encouraged by this new HRA rule, which, combined with the administration’s earlier initiatives, will allow more small business owners additional options as they seek affordable, flexible, and predictable healthcare coverage for their employees.”
Funds in HRA accounts are employer-controlled, can be rolled over from year to year, and dollars can be used for out-of-pocket medical expenses, as well as services not covered by existing insurance plans.
Tom Kunkel from Maryland was one of the NFIB members and small business owners invited to speak at the ceremony. Tom shared a story of how several of his employees suffered from serious medical conditions — including cancer. He was unable to provide health benefits, and he ultimately lost several good members of his team. This new expansion of HRAs gives Tom and other small business owners the opportunity to provide a critical health benefit to their employees.
The previous administration had prohibited integration of HRAs with individual market plans, going so far as to impose fines on employees beginning in 2015. NFIB fought for legislation to overturn this prohibition and for a provision to roll back this ban partially for businesses with fewer than 50 employees. This new rule will now make it easier for more businesses to offer stand-alone HRAs.
“NFIB will continue to review the rule, but we remain optimistic about its effect on small businesses,” said Kevin Kuhlman, NFIB’s Senior Director of Government.