New rule is making Flexible Spending Accounts less easy to use

Smart Money reports “A provision in the health-care overhaul that went into effect this year says that people who want to use their flexible-spending accounts for over-the-counter medicines need to get a prescription first. But experts say the hassle of visiting a doctor before heading to the pharmacy has proven too much for many Americans. While chain drugstores have yet to release data, online pharmacy says sales of OTC medicines have plummeted from 67% to 3% of their total sales so far this year. “People have sort of given up,” says Brian Caswell, pharmacist and owner of Wolkar Drug in Baxter Springs, Kan. “They’re irritated now.”

“Indeed, for many of the 35 million consumers who have FSAs — employer-sponsored accounts that allow them to use pre-tax income to pay for health expenses — the extra burden doesn’t end with getting a doctor to write out prescriptions. Experts say some pharmacies are also unwilling to fill them. That’s in part because of the extra paperwork and time required to process these prescriptions, says a spokesman for the National Community Pharmacists Association.”

Flexible Spending participants, you should consider these new provisions when determining your “use-it-or-lose-it” dollar threshold for the upcoming year.

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