John R. Hickman

John R. Hickman is head of Alston & Bird’s Health Benefits Practice where he leads five attorneys devoted exclusively to health care compliance including Affordable Care Act (ACA), HIPAA privacy, flexible benefits, HSAs, and other health and welfare benefit issues. Mr. Hickman has been a pioneer in the consumer-directed health care arena and has worked closely with health plans, financial institutions, and employers as well as the agencies in developing guidance for tax-favored health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs). Mr. Hickman has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America (Woodward/White), Super Lawyers magazine and Who’s Who Legal in the employee benefits area. He has lectured widely and published articles on HIPAA, ERISA litigation, cafeteria and health plan issues. He is co-author of Health Care Reform, the Cafeteria Plans Manual, HIPAA Portability and Privacy, and Consumer-Driven Health Care (published by the Employee Benefits Institute of America).  He received his B.A. from Florida Atlantic University and his J.D. from Emory University.


  • Emory University (J.D., 1989)
  • Florida Atlantic University (B.A., 1986)


  • Counsel to major insurers regarding health benefits and HIPAA privacy issues.
  • Counsel to financial institutions and card associations regarding health benefits issues.
  • Chair of the Benefits Trade Association technical advisory committee.


  • Alston & Bird Attorneys Named Best Lawyers in America 2015
    One hundred and forty-seven Alston & Bird lawyers, including John Hickman, have been selected by their peers for inclusion in the 2015 edition of The Best Lawyers In America. The lawyers span the firm’s eight U.S. offices and represent more than 60 different practice areas.
  • John Hickman and Mike Petrik Quoted in Atlanta Business Chronicle
    John Hickman and Mike Petrik were quoted in the Atlanta Business Chronicle discussing companies’ misclassification of employees as independent contractors and how if the IRS audits a company and has to reclassify employees, it can result in costly fines, penalties and back taxes.
  • 144 Alston & Bird Attorneys Named 2014 Best Lawyers; 17 Named “Lawyer of the Year”
    One hundred and forty-four Alston & Bird attorneys, including John Hickman, have been selected for inclusion in the 2014 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.  In addition, 17 Alston & Bird attorneys were named “Lawyer of the Year” by the publication.
  • John Hickman’s Comments Featured in Bloomberg BNA
    John Hickman’s comments at an annual conference sponsored by the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC) were featured in Bloomberg BNA, which discussed employer-sponsored health care plans and tracking employees’ work hours and other paid service hours to comply with the Affordable Care Act.


  • “IRS Notice 2014-55 Allows New Health Coverage Election Changes”, The Self Insurer, November 3, 2014.
    On September 18, 2014, the IRS issued several pieces of guidance on pressing Affordable Care Act issues, including Notice 2014-55. Notice 2014-55 provides for two new permissible, mid-year cafeteria plan election changes.
  • "To Subsidize or Not to Subsidize - That is the Question - How Halbig and King Affect Employer Requirements Under the Affordable Care Act," The Self Insurer, September 2014.
  • “ACA Administrative Simplification Provisions for Health Plans: Time to Apply for an HPID and Prepare for Certification of Compliance”, The Self Insurer, July 2014.
  • "Agency Guidance Prohibits Pre-Tax Funding of Individual Medical Coverage for Active Employees," ECFC Flex Reporter, June 2014.
  • “The Affordable Care Act and Account-Based Plans: Impact of the ACA on HRAs, FSAs, and HSAs,”The Self Insurer, April 2014.
  • “Departments Issue New ACA FAQs on Preventive Services, Cost-Sharing Limits, Fixed Indemnity Insurance, Wellness Programs and Expatriate Health Plans,” The Self Insurer, March 2014.
  • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Advisory: Health Care Reform Update: Departments Issue New ACA FAQs on Preventive Services, Cost-Sharing Limits, Fixed Indemnity Insurance, Wellness Programs and Expatriate Health Plans
    On January 9, 2014, the Departments of Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury (collectively, the “Departments”) issued Part XVIII of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Mental Health Parity Implementation. The Departments’ ACA Implementation FAQs have been important sub-regulatory tools for divining regulatory intent on complicated, and continually evolving, issues. This advisory addresses FAQs Part XVIII related to ACA implementation, including guidance regarding preventive services, cost-sharing limitations, fixed indemnity insurance, wellness programs and expatriate health plans as they relate to group health plans.