QSEHRA vs. ICHRA

 

What the differences are and how to choose which is best for your company.

 

The qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangement (QSEHRA) and the individual coverage health reimbursement arrangement (ICHRA) are two health benefits plans uniquely suited for small businesses. Both of them allow companies to set allowances for their employees to use on health insurance policies and other medical expenses.

However, while they perform similar functions, they operate differently. The table outlines the main practical differences between the two benefits and which option is best for which company goals.

After the table, we describe a sample company and how it might decide between the ICHRA and the QSEHRA.

 

  ICHRA QSEHRA
Employer eligibility requirements Available to any business not offering group health insurance. Available to businesses that have fewer than 50 full-time employees and don’t offer group health insurance.

Employee eligibility

The business can structure eligibility guidelines based on employee classes, and employees must have individual health insurance to participate.

All full-time employees are automatically eligible. Businesses can choose to extend eligibility to part-time employees, but must offer the same allowances to both groups.

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Annual allowance caps

None.

$5,150 for single employees and $10,450 for employees with a family in 2019.

Rollover guidelines

Month to month and year to year permitted.

Month to month permitted, but total reimbursements in one year can’t go over the annual allowance cap.

Budgetary guidelines

Businesses can offer different allowance amounts to different employees based on classes as well as family size.

Businesses can offer different allowance amounts to different employees based on family size.

Premium tax credit guidelines

Employees cannot have both the premium tax credit and the ICHRA. They may waive premium tax credits and participate in the ICHRA, or opt out of the ICHRA and collect premium tax credits if the HRA allowance amount is considered unaffordable.

Employees with premium tax credits can participate in the QSEHRA, but their premium tax credit will be reduced by the amount of their QSEHRA allowance. Employees cannot opt out of the QSEHRA.

Current availability

Available beginning January 1, 2020.

Available now.

Best suited for

Companies that: 

  • wish to reimburse premiums only.
  • want to vary allowances by  full-time or part-time status, salaried or hourly status, in-state or out-of-state address, or any combination of these.
  • choose to offer an allowance above $870 monthly.
  • have few or no employees with premium tax credits.

Companies that:

  • want to reimburse premiums as well as medical expenses.
  • want to offer the same allowance to all employees or only vary by family status.
  • have employees in a variety of insurance situations, i.e., on their spouse’s employer plan.

Short on time? Go through our quiz to see which option would be best for your company in just a few seconds.

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Company scenario: A1 HVAC company

 

A1 HVAC Company wants to offer a health benefit to its employees for the first time, but doesn’t want to deal with the headache and cost of group health insurance. A1 has 10 employees:

  • The owner
  • Five installation techs
  • 2 salespeople
  • 2 office support staff

The company has a limited budget for benefits, but still wants to provide a valuable benefit to all its employees. Robin decides to distinguish allowances by family status, offering $400 per month for employees with families and $200 per month for single employees.

Three of A1’s employees qualify for premium tax credits, one is on a health care sharing ministry plan, and three are on their spouse’s insurance. The others are planning on buying individual health insurance policies with their allowance.

 

Name

Position

Family status

Qualify for PTC?

Insurance status

Part time vs. full time

Robin*

Owner

       

Debbie

Office support

Has a family

No

Spouse’s insurance

Part time

Kevin

Office support

Has a family

No

Spouse’s insurance

Part time

Terry

Salesperson

Single

No

Uninsured

Full time

Rafael

Salesperson

Single

No

Uninsured

Full time

Ida

Installation tech

Has a family

No

Health care sharing ministry

Full time

Adrian

Installation tech

Has a family

No

Spouse’s insurance

Full time

Raymond

Installation tech

Single

Yes

Uninsured

Part time

Hannah

Installation tech

Single

Yes

Uninsured

Part time

Lee

Installation tech

Single

Yes

Individual insurance policy

Part time

*Because A1 files as an S corp, Robin as owner is ineligible to participate in either a QSEHRA or an ICHRA. For more information, see our business owner eligibility infographic.

There are pros and cons for each option for this company.

QSEHRA option

Allowance: Robin can differentiate employee allowances by family status, so employees with families will receive $400 monthly and single employees will receive $200 monthly. Robin chooses to offer the QSEHRA to part-time as well as full-time employees, knowing the allowances must be equivalent.

Employee eligibility: All employees except Robin can participate. 

Reimbursement rules: Ida cannot use her QSEHRA allowance to pay her health care sharing ministry dues, but she is free to use it on medical expenses. Similarly, the employees on spouses’ plans cannot use their allowance on that premium, but can use it for expenses. Terry, Rafael, Raymond, and Hannah will be able to buy new policies with their allowance, and Lee can now use his on his existing premium.

Premium tax credits: Raymond, Hannah, and Lee all qualify for $150 in premium tax credits per month. Because their QSEHRA allowance is $200, their premium tax credits are reduced to $0.

Company monthly limit: $2600

ICHRA option

Allowance: A1 can still offer $400 to employees with families and $200 to employees who are single regardless of part-time status.

Employee eligibility: Debbie, Kevin, Ida, and Adrian, because they don’t have individual insurance plans, are ineligible to participate in the ICHRA. They have 60 days to cancel their existing policies if they choose to go for individual policies. Those on spouse’s plans decide to stay, but Ida decides to leave her health care sharing ministry. Terry, Rafael, Raymond, and Hannah will need to purchase individual insurance policies to be able to participate, and they will also have 60 days to do so. Lee is good to go and can participate immediately.

Reimbursement rules: A1’s ICHRA reimburses individual health insurance policy premiums only.

Premium tax credits: Raymond, Hannah, and Lee accept the ICHRA, thus  waiving their premium tax credits entirely.

Company monthly limit: $1200

 

A1 decides to go with the QSEHRA, even though the total out-of-pocket cost is higher for the company, because it will serve more of its employees. Every employee is able to use their allowance for expenses, and many can use it toward their premiums.

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