WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is expanding options for employers to use special accounts to help workers buy their own health insurance, upgrade job-based coverage, or choose low-cost plans with limited benefits, officials said Thursday.
The tax-free individual accounts are called “health reimbursement arrangements,” or HRAs, and starting next year employees will be able to use them to buy their own individual health insurance plans.
Employers that offer regular workplace coverage can also set up another type of HRA account — limited to $1,800 a year — that will allow workers to get additional benefits such as dental and vision care. This second type of account can also be used to purchase lower-cost, short-term insurance that comes with limited benefits and doesn’t have to cover pre-existing medical conditions.
HRAs are already available to employers and workers, but the administration finalized new rules that potentially could boost their popularity. Thursday’s final regulation is nearly 500 pages long, and will take time for experts and benefit consultants to parse. But critics fear that some of the changes could undermine traditional workplace insurance, or raise premiums for individual plans.