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Why your integrated HRA shouldn't be tied to one carrier

Group Health Insurance • January 18, 2022 at 8:02 AM • Written by: Gabrielle Smith

For many employers offering a group health insurance plan, adding a supplemental benefit in addition to the group plan can help offset your employees’ out-of-pocket costs. This is especially true with high deductible health plans (HDHPs) that require employees to pay a higher amount on their own before their insurance kicks in.

One way to supplement your group health insurance plan is through an integrated HRA, also known as a group coverage HRA (GCHRA). This type of health reimbursement arrangement is tied to an employer-sponsored group health plan to help cover the costs that aren’t fully covered by the group plan.

When choosing a provider to set up your integrated HRA, you have two options: Offer a plan that’s tied to a specific insurance carrier, or offer an independent plan through an HRA administration software provider.

While it may be tempting to offer an integrated HRA that’s tied to a well-known carrier, in this article we’ll share the little-known advantages of independently-offered HRAs.

Here’s a sneak peek at the advantages of independently-offered HRAs that we’ll cover:

New to integrated HRAs? Get our comprehensive guide for everything you need to know

Integration with a variety of insurance carriers

If you choose to offer an integrated HRA that’s tied to a specific insurance carrier, that means you must offer a group health insurance plan from that carrier. So if you’re not already offering a plan from that carrier, you’ll have to cancel your current plan and switch over to theirs before you can begin offering the HRA.

Not only is this a hassle in and of itself, what’s worse is that this may mean sacrificing a plan that you and your employees already enjoy and are familiar with. Not to mention the new plan may come with a less affordable premium that doesn’t fit within your organization's benefits budget.

By offering an integrated HRA through an administration software solution like PeopleKeep, which is not tied to a specific carrier, you can apply the HRA to any group health insurance plan you choose, including the one you’re already offering.

Or, if you’re shopping around for a new plan, offering an independent integrated HRA opens you up to look around at any group plan that fits your company’s needs—not just the ones that already offer an integrated HRA.

With an independently offered HRA, no matter which group plan you offer currently, or which plan you’d like to offer in the future, you can always be sure it will seamlessly integrate with your HRA.

Talk with a benefits advisor to learn how an integrated HRA with PeopleKeep can benefit your organization

Expertise on the laws and regulations surrounding HRAs

Another benefit of offering an integrated HRA from an HRA administration software provider is the wealth of knowledge they have on HRA compliance. When offering an integrated HRA with a specific insurance carrier, their expertise is focused more on the group plan than it is on the HRA.

A company that focuses solely on HRAs on the other hand, will have in-depth knowledge on all of the laws, rules, and regulations that come with offering an HRA. If those laws change over time, you can rest easy knowing that you have a full support team of experts who know what you need to do to stay compliant.

With PeopleKeep, our award-winning customer support team focuses on the fine print so you don’t have to. Offering an integrated HRA with PeopleKeep takes just a few minutes every month, and we’re the first to know when there are regulatory changes that impact your benefits.

Learn why PeopleKeep is the #1-rated HRA administration software on the market

Budget-friendly reimbursement processes

Next, a common trait you’ll find with carrier-specific integrated HRAs is pre-funding. This means that the carrier will require you to front the full allowance amount to fund the HRA at the beginning of the plan year. This can be a challenge, especially for small and midsize organizations with tighter budgets.

By offering an HRA with PeopleKeep, you only pay out what your employees use. When an employee submits an expense, we’ll review it to make sure it’s qualified, and then send it off to you to approve. You’ll then reimburse the employee only up to the amount they paid—this can be done as easily as through payroll.

If an employee doesn’t spend their full allowance amount, that money stays with you without ever having to leave your account. It’s simple, cost-effective, and budget-friendly!

Employer-control over your own benefit

Lastly, when offering an integrated HRA with a software provider like PeopleKeep, you have full control over your benefit. While other carriers might try to upsell you on a plan you don’t really need, HRAs with PeopleKeep are completely customizable to include only what you need.

With an integrated HRA with PeopleKeep, you set up and customize the plan with the allowance amount, employee classes, and even specific expenses you want to reimburse. We’ll handle the most time-consuming tasks, like preparing and updating legal documents, reviewing reimbursements, and even sending you a weekly email report with any reimbursements you need to approve.

With PeopleKeep, you stay in complete control without having to worry about the fine print. It’s the best of both worlds!

Watch our product demo to get a firsthand look at how the PeopleKeep software works


Offering an integrated HRA, or group coverage HRA, is a simple and cost-effective way to supplement your group health insurance plan to offset your employees out-of-pocket costs. By offering a group coverage HRA with PeopleKeep, you get the most flexibility and control over your benefit than you ever would with one tied to a specific carrier.

Our personalized benefits advisors are experts on all things HRAs, including integrated HRAs. Schedule a call today to learn how PeopleKeep can help your organization offer hassle-free health benefits.

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Gabrielle Smith