By: Birch

In response to the significant amount of interest regarding HRAs that reimburse travel-related expenses in the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Birch has prepared the following guide to address FAQs:  

What is a Transportation Health Reimbursement Arrangement?

A Transportation Health Reimbursement Arrangement or “Transportation HRA” is an Employer Funded plan whereby the employer promises to reimburse certain eligible medically-related travel expenses not covered by a major medical plan.   

What expenses can be covered by a Transportation HRA?

A Transportation HRA can cover eligible travel expenses for medical care under Code section 213(d) including expenses for transportation primarily for and essential to medical care. Transportation expenses would include either the actual cost of gas and oil (requires receipt), or the trip mileage at a rate of $.22 (2022). Transportation costs also include fares for taxis, buses, airplanes, trains, and Uber/Lyft rides. In addition, expenses for lodging while away from home primarily for and essential to medical care can also be covered up to $50 per day. If the person requires a companion to travel, the lodging can be covered at up to $100/day.  

Would a Transportation HRA just cover eligible employees?

The plan can be designed to only cover eligible employees on the company’s medical plan(s), or it can be designed to cover employees and their dependents. In addition, employees who are covered by their spouse’s group medical insurance plan can also be included.    

What are some other considerations for designing a Transportation HRA?

The HRA’s plan design should also identify if there are any distance requirements for travel, eg, caps on distance for travel. Of course, an HRA should have an annual dollar limit or per-occurrence limit for reimbursement during the plan year.  

In the wake of the Dobbs decision, what considerations should be made for reimbursement of travel expenses related to receiving abortion services?

It’s important to note that the HRA will only reimburse for abortion-related travel expenses provided that the medical services were lawfully obtained in the jurisdiction where they were provided.  

How will employees be reimbursed for eligible expenses?

Employees will be reimbursed for manual claims for eligible expenses that they submit either by check or by direct deposit to an employee’s checking account.  

How is employee information handled?

HIPAA privacy rules protect covered individuals and their protected health information (“PHI”). PHI will not be used or disclosed to the employer without an individual’s signed authorization.  

How do employers receive summary and utilization information?

Employers should receive regular summary reports which will protect employees’ identities.  

The rules and regulations in response to the recent Dobbs ruling may be subject to change. Check back often for updates.