Under the new rules, over-the-counter drugs cannot be reimbursed under these plans unless they are purchased with a doctor’s prescription. The act goes into effect for items purchased in 2011.
This includes (but is not limited to):
- Cough, flu, and cold medicine
- Allergy and sinus medicine
- Cold sore remedies
- Pain medication
- Stomach remedies (such as indigestion)
- Anti-itch creams
- Motion sickness.
Prior to the new rules, people with a FSA, HRA, or HSA could be reimbursed for over the counter medications. Usually all that was needed was a receipt stating what the item was as backup for reimbursement. This meant that items like over-the-counter allergy remedies could be used as part of a health plan and be used with pre-tax dollars, lowering the amount you are taxed.
How Does This Affect You?
If you have a FSA, HRA, or HSA then you need to take into account the fact that you can not be reimbursed for over-the-counter drugs. This may mean lowering the amount you contribute towards these accounts.
It also means that if your doctor suggests an over-the-counter medication, then you should ask for a prescription so you can include the medication in your reimbursement.
How Do You Prove a Prescription for an Over-the-Counter Drug?
In order to claim an over-the-counter drug you will need to have a copy of the receipt as well as the original or a copy of the prescription. Some pharmacy receipts may have a Rx number on them that would act as proof of a prescription.
There’s One Exception
The one exception to the prescription rule is for insulin. This can still be reimbursed on FSA, HRA, and HSA plans without a doctor’s prescription as backup.
What is Still Eligible for Reimbursement
Co-pays, deductibles, and health care expenses (like eye glasses, contact lenses, and medical devices), and prescription medicines.
Make sure you keep these new rules in mind when you determine your plan contribution amount for 2011. Plans like the Flexible Spending Account are “use it or lose it” accounts. This means if you don’t have enough deductions to meet your contributions then you lose the difference.
A flexible savings account is still a great way to reduce your taxable income. You just need to take into consideration the new over-the-counter medication rules.
Sources: Affordable Care Act: Questions and Answers on Over-the-Counter Medicines and Drugs; IRS Issues Guidance Explaining 2011 Changes to Flexible Spending Arrangements