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Flexible Benefit Plan/Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)

A Flexible Spending Account allow an employee to set aside a portion of earnings to pay for qualified expenses as established in the cafeteria plan, most commonly for medical expenses but often for dependent care or other expenses. Money deducted from an employee’s pay into a FSA is not subject to payroll taxes, resulting in substantial payroll tax savings.

Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs)

Health Reimbursement Arrangements are IRS-sanctioned programs that allow an employer to set aside funds to reimburse medical expenses paid by participating employees. Using a HRA yields “tax advantages to offset health care costs” for both employees as well as employers. HRAs must be funded solely by an employer and contributions cannot be paid through a voluntary salary reduction agreement (i.e., a cafeteria plan). There is no limit on the employer’s contribution, which is excluded from the employee’s income.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

Health Savings Account are tax-advantaged medical savings accounts available to individuals enrolled in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). The funds contributed to a (HSA) are not subject to federal income tax at the time of deposit. Unlike a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), funds roll over and accumulate year to year if not spent. HSAs are owned by the individual, which differentiates them from company-owned Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) that are an alternate tax-deductible source of funds paired with either HDHPs or standard health plans. HSA funds may currently be used to pay for qualified medical expenses at any time without federal tax liability or penalty.

Transportation Benefit Plans

An employer may provide transportation benefits to their employees that are tax free up to a certain limit. The two types of qualified transportation benefits are (1) transit passes and van pooling and (2) parking. Bike commuters can also be reimbursed for certain expenses. While a commuter benefits program offers a convenient way for employees to lower their commuting costs by utilizing pretax dollars to pay for commuting costs, the program also offers an employer the ability to enhance their benefits package with an incentive that can be used to attract and retain qualified employees particularly in areas with transit access.

COBRA Administration

COBRA gives employees and their families who lose their health insurance the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time under certain circumstances such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in work hours, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events. Qualified individuals may be required to pay the entire premium for coverage up to 102 percent of the cost to the plan.