For regular, limited‐term and probationary employees hired on or after January 1, 2007, the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) provides a defined contribution plan for retiree medical benefits – called a Health Care Reimbursement Account (HCRA).
What is an HCRA?
The HCRA is considered an employer‐funded account, pursuant to either a bargaining agreement or a personnel policy. Employees are required to participate pursuant to the terms of the applicable agreement - participation is not discretionary.
It is tax‐free with no federal requirements for a health plan. The funds are saved to pay for future medical expenses. Non‐qualified withdrawals are not allowed.
Why is the HCRA considered an employer‐funded account?
The HCRA is considered employer‐funded because the employer (OCFA) has the tax‐exempt status. The benefit of OCFA maintaining the tax‐exempt status is that all employee contributions and withdrawals (at the time of retirement or separation) are tax‐free to the employee.
What fees are associated with my HCRA?
The HCRA has a monthly administrative fee of $2.50. If you choose to open a Basic Investment Account, there is an additional monthly fee of $1.50 or $18 per year. This fee is deducted from your investment account.
Can I designate a beneficiary to my account?
Yes. HCRA account rules state that, upon an account holder’s death, the money in the account will revert to the following (in this order, as available):
- If no spouse, eligible medical dependent
- If no eligible medical dependent, the funds can be left to a beneficiary named by you at www.hellofurther.com or by completing the HCRA beneficiary form.
New hire information
After enrollment, you will receive a verification form from Further with your Spending Account ID number and an account verification via mail.
Once you have your account information, you can register online at hellofurther.com and manage your account. Plan information is also available on theHIVE.
Can I contribute more or less than four percent of my base earnings to my HCRA?
No. According to a current bargaining agreement, all regular, limited‐term and probationary employees hired on or after January 1, 2007, are required to contribute four percent of your base salary to the HCRA. You are not permitted to contribute more or less to the plan.
Current employee information
As a current OCFA employee, 4% of your base salary will be deposited into your HCRA from each paycheck. These funds will be available to you after you have retired or after your employment with OCFA ends. You cannot use these funds while you are employed with OCFA.
You may order a debit card, but you will not be able to use while you are still employed. All transactions will be declined until your employment ends.
What is the interest rate on the HCRA?
HCRA interest rates range from 0.25% - 1.25%, depending on your balance.
When can I begin directing my investments?
When your account Base Balance exceeds $1,000, you have the option to activate a Basic Investment Account. This account gives you access to mutual funds from Schwab. You also have access to online resources and tools through the Further investment site.
Investment accounts are self-directed and self-managed. This means you decide whether and when to invest, select the mutual funds you'd like to invest in, and decide how much to invest. You can review your OCFA investment options here.
If you need help with this process, you have access to online resources and tools through the Schwab site accessible from your HCRA account at www.hellofurther.com.
If you take no action to transfer your funds that exceed $1,000, your funds will continue only to earn the 0.25% to 1.25% interest rate. If you need assistance in setting up your investment account, please refer to “Navigating the Further HCRA Basic Investment Account Website” document on theHIVE, or contact Further at (800) 859‐2144.
Former employee information
Upon retirement or separation from employment, you will receive from Further:
- A letter from Further notifying you that your account is now available to use
- A list of eligible expenses
- Debit card brochure
- Claim form
- Tips for submitting claims
You will also receive a debit card to begin using the account to pay for qualified medical expenses.
What is considered an eligible expense for my HCRA?
Medical deductibles, co‐pay and coinsurance expenses, and vision and dental expenses are considered eligible expenses. Most important, the HCRA covers medical insurance premiums not paid with pre-tax payroll dollars. Most of our retirees choose to remain on a Brown Insurance plan or the Fire Authority’s CalPERS medical plan in retirement. Those medical insurance premiums are not paid with pre-tax payroll dollars so the HCRA could be used. Please refer to our Tips for Using Your HCRA to Pay Insurance Premiums for more details.
An HCRA eligibility list is available for your reference on theHIVE.
The account can also be used to pay for expenses for the account holder’s spouse and qualified tax dependents.
When can I begin receiving reimbursements from this account?
Once Further has been notified by OCFA that you have retired or separated from employment, you can begin to use the funds in your account.
After an expense, how long do I have to submit a claim for reimbursement?
You must submit a claim for reimbursement no later than 18‐months from the incurred date of the expense. Expenses must be incurred after the date of separation/retirement.
Can I order additional debit card(s)?
Yes. Debit cards can be ordered for your spouse and qualified tax dependents.