Introducing HSA/HRA Plans | How BlueFund Plans Work
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Introducing HSA/HRA Plans
CareFirst's BlueFund plans are an affordable, flexible and dependable choice for you and your employees.
CareFirst believes that involving members more closely in managing their health care will result in better outcomes and lower health care costs.
BlueFund Plans put your employees in charge - and give them the tools they need to manage their health care. There are three key components of the BlueFund Plans:
- A Qualifying High Deductible Health Plan
- Online Tools & Resources
CareFirst's BlueFund Plans offer two funding options:
Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA)
The Health Reimbursement Arrangement (or HRA) is an allocation by the employer for each eligible employee. HRA funds are not deposited to a separate trust account in advance, but payments are made when claims are processed. The employer sets a maximum allocation each year, for each employee.
Employees use the money in their HRA to pay for eligible health care services, including doctor visits and prescription drugs.
Any money that remains at the end of the contract year may, if the employer chooses, roll over to the following year - thus increasing the overall balance in the fund. If the employee leaves the company, the money stays with the employer.
With an HRA, the employer can set limits on how an employee's funds are used. They can be as unconditional as allowing access to all services outlined by the IRS (Section 213(d) of tax code) or as restrictive as limiting use of these funds to those services outlined in the group health coverage.
Frequently Asked Questions for HRA Debit Cardholders
Health Savings Account (HSA)
Unlike the HRA, which is funded exclusively by the employer, the Health Savings Account (or HSA) can be funded by the employer, the employee or both. Employer contributions can be made in a lump sum at the beginning of the plan year, or made throughout the plan year. Employee contributions are made through a pre-tax payroll deduction.
HSA funds are deposited with a third-party trustee. Only funds actually in the account can be accessed for reimbursement.
In addition to covering out-of-pocket medical costs, an HSA allows employees to put aside pre-tax income, thus reducing their tax liability while also earning interest on their savings. And, unlike a Flexible Spending Account, any money not used remains in the portable account, and can be used for future health expenses. HSA balances belong to the employee when they retire or change jobs.
Qualifying Health Plans
CareFirst and CareFirst BlueChoice now offer several HSA and HRA compatible plans. These plans allow you to either select your own funding administrator or allow your employees to set up their own accounts.
With all CareFirst BlueFund plans, you'll have access to an extensive network of credentialed providers. Your health care dollars will go farther with in-network providers, because the allowed benefit for members is usually lower than the providers' regular rates.
- PPO High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) - The Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) high deductible health plan (HDHP) offers referral-free coverage from one of the region's largest provider networks. Our BlueFund PPO is available to national and local accounts, as well as individuals.
- BlueChoice HMO High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) - The BlueChoice HMO HDHP plan gives you another option for coverage. After meeting the annual deductible, you'll have the advantage of predictable copayments for covered services, with no PCP referral required. BlueChoice HMO is available to local groups and individuals in the CareFirst service area.
CareFirst's Online Tools & Resources
With CareFirst's BlueFund Plans, members have access to an array of online services:
My Care First - CareFirst's online interactive guide to health topics offers information on nutrition, fitness, chronic illness, stress, mental health and much more.
My Account - Online access to claims, deductibles, benefits and out-of-pocket costs is available through My Account.
Hospital Comparison Tool - This tool provides information on complication rates, mortality rates, length of stay, and how frequently a hospital performs specific procedures. The full version is available after logging into My Account. A demonstration is also available.
Options - Discounts are available on a wide range of alternative and fitness services, from acupuncture to yoga, including Weight Watchers Online.
CareFirst's Prescription Drug Web Site - Your employees can find out how much their prescription drugs will cost and if there are less expensive alternatives, locate a pharmacy in their own neighborhood, refill their prescriptions online, and learn which drugs require prior authorization. Members can also print an up-to-date version of the preferred drug list and obtain answers to frequently asked questions.
To assist members in managing their health plans, CareFirst also offers additional tools that enable your employees to:
- Keep track of the balance in their HRA or HSA
- Find a doctor
- Request an ID card
- Search the online provider directories
CareFirst Connect - A comprehensive benefits management tool, CareFirst Connect makes it easy for your employees to enroll or change benefit elections and provide comprehensive reporting to your human resources staff. An online demonstration is available at www.carefirst.com/connectdemo.
For more information on BlueFund plans, see How BlueFund Plans Work.