Toggle navigation
texas health insurance for companies

The New Frontier for Texas Employee Health Benefits

In the vast landscape of employer-provided health benefits, a new horizon emerges for Texas business owners. Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) are swiftly becoming the trailblazers, offering innovative solutions in an ever-evolving healthcare ecosystem. Traditional group health insurance plans, with their rigid structures and rising costs, have long dominated the scene. But today's savvy Texas entrepreneurs are exploring HRAs as a means to provide flexibility, control costs, and cater to the diverse needs of their workforce. As we venture into this new frontier, let's uncover the transformative potential of HRAs and why they might just be the next big thing for Lone Star State businesses.

Delving into Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs)

At the core of modern, flexible health benefit solutions stands the HRA. But what is an HRA, and how does it operate? Let's get to the essentials.

An HRA is an employer-established plan to reimburse employees for medical-related expenses, which can range from deductibles and copayments to premiums for individual health insurance plans. Unlike traditional health insurance, where the employer provides a set plan, an HRA empowers employees to make their own health coverage choices while still benefiting from employer contributions.

Benefits of HRAs

Compared to the rigidity of group health plans, HRAs offer many benefits

Customized Health Choices: HRAs allow employees to select health services or insurance plans tailored to their unique needs. They aren't restricted to a one-size-fits-all group policy.

Tax Efficiency: Contributions made by employers to HRAs are tax-deductible for the business and are also tax-free for employees when used for eligible expenses. This double benefit provides tax savings for both parties.  

Cost Control for Employers: Employers have the flexibility to set their budget and decide the allowance amount for employees. This fixed contribution approach provides predictability and control over healthcare costs.

Streamlined Administration: Many HRAs, especially when combined with modern HRA management platforms, can reduce the administrative hassles associated with traditional health benefit programs.

Enhanced Employee Satisfaction: When employees have the autonomy to choose services and plans that best fit their personal and family needs, it can lead to increased satisfaction and perceived value of the health benefit.

An HRA shifts the approach from providing a standard group health insurance plan to offering a flexible, individualized health benefit solution. With its myriad benefits, it stands out as a modern, efficient, and customizable option for businesses keen on providing health benefits without the constraints of traditional insurance models.

Talk to an expert

Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangements (ICHRA)

ICHRA is a specific type of HRA designed to integrate with individual health insurance plans. This model allows employers to provide employees with a set allowance to purchase their own health coverage on the individual market, rather than providing a traditional group health plan. Here's what you need to know:

Flexibility: Employers can set different allowance amounts based on classes of employees, such as full-time, part-time, or employees in different geographic locations.

Comprehensive: ICHRAs can be used to reimburse premiums for individual health insurance policies and other medical expenses.

Employee Choice: Employees have the freedom to choose a health insurance plan that best suits their needs, rather than being limited to one or two group plans.

Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangements (QSEHRA)

QSEHRAs are designed specifically for small employers who have fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees and who do not offer a group health plan. Here are the key points:

Contribution Limits: There are annual limits on the amount that employers can contribute to QSEHRAs. For 2023, businesses with less than 50 employees can contribute a maximum of $5,850 for individual employees and $11,800 for employees with a family.

Inclusive: Similar to ICHRAs, QSEHRAs allow employees to be reimbursed for premiums on individual health insurance policies and other medical expenses.

Notification Requirements: Employers offering a QSEHRA must provide a written notice to eligible employees at least 90 days before the beginning of the year, informing them of the arrangement and the amount of their allowance.

HRAs, ICHRAs, and QSEHRAs are powerful tools for employers looking to offer health benefits in a flexible, cost-effective manner. By understanding the nuances of each, businesses can select the arrangement that best aligns with their needs and the needs of their employees. As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, these reimbursement models are paving the way for more personalized, employee-centric health coverage solutions.

Understanding the Individual Health Insurance Marketplace in Texas: How HRAs Benefit Your Business

The individual health insurance marketplace is a pivotal platform that has provided millions of Americans, including many Texans, with a way to access affordable health coverage. As a business owner, it’s essential to be familiar with this marketplace, especially if you’re considering offering HRAs to your employees. Let’s dive into the details.

Which HRA is best for your business? Click that green button to take our quiz. 

Get started

What is the Individual Health Insurance Marketplace?

The Individual Health Insurance Marketplace, often referred to simply as "the Marketplace," is a service that helps people shop for and enroll in affordable health insurance. In Texas, the federal government runs the Marketplace through the website.

People can compare different health insurance plans based on costs, benefits, and other factors. It's designed for people who:

  • Don't have insurance through a job.
  • Don't qualify for Medicaid or Medicare.
  • Aren’t part of a group insurance plan.

Through the Marketplace, Texans can assess their eligibility for subsidies based on their income, which can significantly lower the costs of premiums.

How do HRAs come into play?

An HRA is an employer-funded account that reimburses employees for out-of-pocket medical expenses and individual health insurance premiums. HRAs can offer a flexible alternative to traditional group health plans, often leading to cost savings for both employers and employees.

Here's how HRAs benefit businesses with the Individual Health Insurance Marketplace:

  1. Flexibility: Instead of choosing a one-size-fits-all group insurance plan, employers can provide a set monthly allowance for employees. Employees can then shop in the Marketplace for a plan that best suits their needs and budget.  
  2. Cost Control: By offering HRAs, employers can determine a fixed monthly contribution for health benefits, allowing better prediction and control over budgeting.   
  3. Tax Advantages: HRAs are tax-advantaged accounts. This means that reimbursements provided to employees are tax-free, and businesses can deduct the amounts they contribute, leading to tax savings.
  4. Streamlined Administration: With the advent of technology, numerous platforms facilitate easy management of HRAs. This can significantly reduce the administrative burden for businesses.
  5. Attraction and Retention: Offering an HRA can make your business more attractive to potential hires and can also be a tool for retaining valuable employees.

Talk to an expert

Interaction between HRAs and the Texas Marketplace

With the introduction of Individual Coverage HRAs (ICHRAs) through recent regulatory changes, businesses can now encourage their employees to purchase insurance from the individual market, including the Texas Marketplace. This synergy allows businesses to offer health benefits without taking on the risk and responsibilities associated with traditional group health plans.

When employees shop in the Marketplace, they have a chance to apply for premium tax credits, depending on their income. However, it’s important to note that if an employer offers an affordable ICHRA, the employee may not be eligible for these tax credits.

The individual health insurance marketplace in Texas presents a viable option for business owners looking to provide health benefits to their employees. Through HRAs, especially ICHRAs, businesses can leverage the marketplace for more flexibility, better cost control, and enhanced employee satisfaction.

Considering HRAs for your business? Turn to Take Command to navigate the ins and outs, ensuring you make informed decisions that benefit both your business and your employees.

{Talk to an expert}

The Rich Diversity of the Texas Marketplace: Better Coverage, Lower Costs

Texas, with its vast and varied populace, benefits from one of the most diverse health insurance marketplaces in the nation. This richness in options has several advantages both for individuals seeking coverage and businesses aiming to offer health benefits.

For Individuals: A Tailored Health Coverage

  1. Vast Selection of Plans: With a multitude of insurers and plan options available on the Texas Marketplace, individuals have a better chance of finding a plan that specifically caters to their needs. Whether it’s a focus on preventative care, specialized treatments, or prescription coverage, there’s likely a plan that’s just right.
  2. Competitive Pricing: The healthy competition among various insurance providers often results in more competitive pricing. With more options to choose from, individuals can find plans that offer the best value for their money.
  3. Customized Networks: Many plans in the Marketplace offer specific provider networks, allowing individuals to select plans where their preferred healthcare professionals are in-network, ensuring continuity of care and potentially lower out-of-pocket costs.

For Businesses: An Economical Way to Offer Benefits

  1. Cost Savings: The diversity of the Marketplace often means more competitive pricing for the coverage. When employees choose plans tailored to their needs, businesses can realize significant savings with HRAs since they're only reimbursing for the actual cost of the chosen plan, which can be lower than a generic group plan.
  2. Employee Satisfaction: When employees have the freedom to choose a plan they’re happy with, it leads to higher satisfaction levels. This can translate into higher retention rates and a more positive workplace environment.
  3. Flexibility in Offerings: Businesses aren't limited to offering a single group plan. With the vast selection in the Marketplace, employers can give their employees the freedom to choose, ensuring that their diverse needs are met without the business having to manage multiple group plans.

Enhancing the Business-Employee Relationship

By tapping into the rich and diverse Texas Marketplace, businesses can not only save on costs but also foster a more positive and inclusive work environment. It allows employees to feel valued, knowing that their specific needs are considered. In a world where health coverage is paramount, businesses that leverage this diversity are often seen as forward-thinking and employee-centric.

Pair this advantage with HRAs, and you have a winning combination for both cost savings and enhanced employee welfare. Embracing the individual health insurance marketplace in Texas is a smart move for businesses of all sizes.

Setting Up An HRA: A Step-By-Step Guide

If you're a business owner in Texas, you might be considering offering your employees an HRA as a new frontier in health benefits. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to set up an HRA for your business.


Step 1: Choose which HRA you want to offer

There are different types of HRAs, and you need to choose which one works best for your business. Some of the most common HRAs are:


Step 2: Customize the benefit

Once you've chosen the type of HRA you want to offer, you need to customize the benefit. This includes deciding on the amount you want to contribute, what expenses the HRA will cover, and who is eligible to participate.


Step 3: Choose a start date

This can be at the beginning of the year, or you can choose a different date that works better for your business. Be sure to communicate the start date to your employees.


Step 4: Make needed changes to your current policy

If you already offer health insurance to your employees, you may need to make changes to your current policy to integrate the HRA. Be sure to consult with your insurance provider to ensure a smooth transition.


Step 5: Create and distribute plan documents

Create plan documents that outline the details of the HRA, including eligibility requirements, contribution amounts, and covered expenses. Distribute these documents to your employees.


Step 6: Tell your employees about your HRA

Communicate the benefits of the HRA to your employees. Encourage them to take advantage of the HRA and provide them with resources to help them understand how it works.

By following these steps, you can set up an HRA for your business and provide your employees with a valuable health benefit.

Get started

Group Insurance vs HRAs: Navigating Health Benefits in Texas

In the sprawling health benefits landscape of Texas, two primary pathways stand out for business owners: traditional group insurance and HRAs. Both offer distinct advantages, but their compatibility with the needs of modern Texas businesses differs significantly. Here's a closer look.

Group Insurance

At its core, group insurance is a health coverage plan offered to a group, typically the employees of a business. Here's what you should know:

  • Uniform Coverage: These plans provide set benefits with established deductibles and copays. While this ensures every employee has the same coverage, it might not cater to individual healthcare needs.
  • Cost Sharing: Employers often pay a portion of the premiums, with employees covering the remainder. Over time, as healthcare costs rise, this can become a significant expenditure for both parties.

Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs)

A fresher approach to health benefits, HRAs blend the best of flexibility and cost control. Key points include:

  • Individual Insurance Integration: Unlike group plans, HRAs are designed to work in tandem with individual insurance policies. This synergy allows employees to choose a plan tailored to their needs from the wider marketplace, including the diverse Texas individual health insurance market. Given Texas' vast and varied population, this means a richer selection of plans and providers to cater to individualized needs.
  • Employer-Funded: HRAs are accounts funded by employers to reimburse employees for approved medical expenses, which can include individual insurance premiums or Medicare.
  • Flexibility and Control: Employers can determine their contribution to HRAs, offering predictability in healthcare spending. Meanwhile, employees gain the freedom to select and manage their own health plans, often leading to more satisfaction with their coverage.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: With HRAs, businesses can set a defined contribution, ensuring they stay within their healthcare budget. Plus, since employees can shop around for plans that fit their budgets and needs, they often find better value for their money.

The Texan Advantage

In a state as expansive and diverse as Texas, the ability to tailor health insurance to individual needs is not just a luxury—it's a necessity. The pairing of HRAs with individual insurance plans shines especially bright here. It provides businesses with the dual benefit of predictable costs and empowers employees with a broad spectrum of choices suited to their unique requirements.

While both group insurance and HRAs have their merits, the flexibility, cost control, and compatibility with individual health plans make HRAs a compelling choice for many Texas businesses.

Related: Group vs HRA, which plan is best for your business? 

HRAs and Take Command: Streamlining Health Benefits in Texas

HRAs empower employers to reimburse employees for medical expenses. Administering HRAs requires adherence to IRS regulations, processing claims, and efficient management. 

The Take Command Solution

Specializing in HRA administration in Texas, Take Command simplifies the process for both employers and employees. Our comprehensive services encompass:

  • Tailored HRA plan setup
  • Employee education and onboarding
  • Efficient claims processing
  • Compliance oversight
  • Continuous support

Innovations in HRA Management

Our premier software brings the best in HRA administration, offering:

  • Custom plan templates
  • Automated claim handling
  • Real-time analytics
  • Mobile accessibility for employees
  • Compatibility with leading HR and payroll systems

The Texas Advantage

For Texas business owners, HRAs represent a flexible, cost-efficient health benefits solution. Key takeaways include:

  • HRAs enable reimbursement for specific medical expenses, including individual insurance premiums.
  • They provide cost and healthcare management flexibility for employers and employees.
  • Small businesses find HRAs particularly cost-effective.

With rising healthcare costs, Texas entrepreneurs should view HRAs not only as a financial strategy but as a competitive edge in talent acquisition and retention.

For Texas businesses aiming to optimize health benefits, HRAs, with the support of Take Command's robust platform, stand out as a prime choice. Explore HRAs and ensure the well-being of your workforce. Talk with one of our HRA experts today! {Let’s chat}

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some affordable health insurance options for small business owners in Texas?

In Texas, small business owners have several health insurance options to consider:

  1. Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs): A popular choice, HRAs allow employers to reimburse employees for medical expenses, including premiums for individual health insurance policies. There are specific types of HRAs like QSEHRA and ICHRA that cater to different business needs.
  2. Traditional Group Health Insurance: While often associated with larger companies, some insurance providers offer group plans tailored for small businesses. They can be more expensive but offer comprehensive coverage.
  3. SHOP Marketplace: The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) marketplace is a federal initiative, but it offers health and dental insurance to small businesses. It's especially beneficial for businesses with fewer than 25 employees that meet certain wage criteria, as they might qualify for tax credits.
  4. Association Health Plans (AHPs): AHPs allow small businesses to band together based on industry or location to obtain health insurance as one larger group, potentially securing better terms and rates.
  5. Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs): PEOs provide HR services, including health insurance, by co-employing a company's employees. They can often negotiate better rates due to their larger scale.
  6. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs): An HDHP combined with an HSA allows employees to set aside money, pre-tax, for health care expenses. The premiums for HDHPs are often lower than other health insurance plans.

Remember, the best choice for your business will depend on your specific circumstances, such as the number of employees, their health needs, and your budget. It's advisable to consult with an insurance broker or agent familiar with the Texas market to navigate the options effectively.

How can HRAs benefit small business owners in Texas?

HRAs are a new frontier in health benefits that can benefit small business owners in Texas. They allow employers to reimburse their employees for qualified medical expenses on a tax-free basis. This takes the pressure off the employer to design complicated health benefits plans and allows them to focus on business operations. Additionally, HRAs can be customized to fit the specific needs of the business and its employees.

What is the difference between an HRA and traditional health insurance?

Traditional health insurance plans typically require employers to pay a fixed premium for each employee, regardless of their individual health needs. HRAs, on the other hand, allow employers to reimburse their employees for qualified medical expenses, which can include premiums for individual coverage or other expenses. This allows for more customization and flexibility in the health benefits offered to employees.

Are there any tax benefits to offering an HRA as a small business owner in Texas?

Yes, there are tax benefits to offering an HRA as a small business owner in Texas. Employers can deduct the cost of the HRA as a business expense, and employees don’t have to pay taxes on the reimbursements they receive. This can result in significant savings for both the employer and the employee.

What factors should small business owners consider when choosing a health insurance plan?

When determining the best health insurance solution, including the consideration of Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs), small business owners should weigh several vital factors:

  1. Budget: Gauge the financial capability of your business. Remember that HRAs can offer flexibility, allowing you to set specific contribution amounts for employee medical expenses, including individual insurance premiums.
  2. Employee Needs: Gauge the health necessities of your workforce. For businesses leaning towards HRAs, understand that these arrangements can cater to diverse needs by allowing employees to choose their individual plans.
  3. Plan Types & Flexibility: Beyond traditional group insurance, options like HRAs offer businesses a flexible model that can benefit both the employer and the employees. Understand the differences and benefits of models like HMOs, PPOs, and HRAs.
  4. Network Access: For traditional plans, inspect the breadth of the healthcare provider network. Conversely, HRAs often offer broader choices, as employees can select plans that best suit their needs.
  5. Coverage Scope: Ensure that whatever option chosen provides comprehensive coverage. HRAs can be an advantage here, as they allow for reimbursement of individual plans tailored to each employee's needs.
  6. Additional Perks: While some plans provide extras like dental or vision, HRAs can cover premiums for plans that encompass these services based on the employee's choice.
  7. Employee Contributions: Decide how costs will be shared. With HRAs, employers control the contribution amount, and employees can select plans within that budget or opt for more extensive coverage by topping up.
  8. Administrative Ease: The beauty of HRAs like those offered by providers such as Take Command Health is their ease of management, streamlining the reimbursement process and ensuring compliance.
  9. Feedback Loop: Engage with your team. When considering HRAs, their input is invaluable as they will be selecting their individual plans.
  10. Tax Implications: HRAs come with tax advantages, both for the employer and the employee. Familiarize yourself with these benefits.
  11. Adaptability: Anticipate growth or changes in your workforce. HRAs are inherently flexible, easily adapting to changes in employee numbers or needs.

While traditional health plans offer certain benefits, HRAs introduce a level of flexibility and personalization that's hard to match. Given their potential benefits in terms of cost, coverage, and customization, HRAs are a compelling option for many small businesses. Consulting an expert can help tailor the best solution for your unique business needs.

How can small business owners calculate the cost of offering health insurance to their employees in Texas, considering HRAs?

Calculating the cost of offering health insurance can be a multifaceted process, especially with diverse options available. If you're considering Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs), the process can be both distinct and flexible. Here's how small business owners in Texas can break down these costs:

  1. Traditional Health Insurance Premiums:
  • Start by getting quotes from insurance providers for group health insurance plans.
  • Remember to factor in both the employer and employee contributions. Typically, businesses cover a certain percentage of the premium, while employees cover the rest.
  1. HRA Budgeting:
  • Determine the monthly allowance you'll provide to each employee through the HRA. This can be based on factors like job role, seniority, or family size.
  • Multiply the monthly allowance by the number of participating employees to get a monthly total, then multiply by 12 for an annual cost.
  1. Additional Expenses:
  • Traditional plans might have administration fees or costs associated with managing the plan.
  • HRAs, especially when managed through platforms like Take Command Health, can have associated administration fees. However, these fees can be offset by the potential tax benefits and reduced premium costs compared to group plans.
  1. Potential Tax Savings:
  • HRAs offer tax advantages, as contributions are tax-deductible for the business and aren't considered taxable income for employees.
  • Factor in these savings when evaluating the overall cost. Consulting with a tax professional can provide clarity on potential savings.
  1. Employee Utilization:
  • Not all employees will utilize the full HRA allowance. Over time, you can adjust estimates based on actual utilization rates.
  • Remember, unused HRA funds typically remain with the employer, which can lead to additional savings.
  1. Market Research:
  • Health insurance costs can vary widely based on location, even within Texas. Ensure you're getting quotes and doing research based on your specific location.
  • For HRAs, market research can help you determine competitive allowance amounts to ensure you're attracting and retaining top talent.
  1. Adjustment for Growth:
  • Project the growth of your company. If you plan to hire more employees, factor in these additional costs, whether you're offering a traditional plan or an HRA.
  1. Seek Expert Guidance:
  • For a detailed breakdown and understanding of costs, especially the intricacies of HRAs, consider consulting with health benefit specialists or platforms that specialize in HRA management.

While traditional health insurance plans come with a set premium, HRAs offer flexibility, allowing businesses to set and adjust their budgets based on their financial situations and employee needs. This can often result in cost savings while still providing valuable health benefits.

Talk to an expert


Let's talk through your HRA questions

Fill out the form below to connect with our team and see if an HRA is a good fit.