2011 Flexible Spending Account Changes

In CategoryHealth News

Changes to FSA Plans (for 2011)

OTC’s requires Prescription : If you use your FSA to pay for over the counter medications (any cold medicine, allergies, motion sickness) then you are in for some significant changes beginning January 1, 2011. Your over the counter (OTC) drugs now require a prescription to be reimbursed from your FSA.  There are a few exceptions to this (like insulin, contact lens solution) which are listed below.

Know your documentation :  According to the IRS, you should be able to provide proof of purchase and proof of prescription. For example you can provide either

  1. A customer receipt issued by Lehan Drugs that reflects the date of sale and the amount of the charge, along with a copy of the prescription OR
  2. A customer receipt that identifies the name of the purchaser (or the name of the person for whom the prescription applies), the date and amount of the purchase and an Rx number

What about grace periods? Some companies provide a grace period to use up all the money, so if your grace period extends into 2011, you would have to follow the new rule for whatever you are buying after Jan 1, 2011. Even if the money comes from 2010 fund. For example, if your company provides a 2 ½ month grace period to use your 2010 fund, the cost of over-the-counter medicines and drugs purchased without a prescription during the first 2 ½ months of 2011 will not be eligible to be reimbursed by a health FSA.

List of eligible medications that do not require a prescription

This change impacts only medication. This means any medical equipment and other medical supplies that are covered by your plan will not require any extra documentation. Here is a sample of stuff that doesn’t require any prescription.

Adult incontinence products (e.g.Depends) Health monitors (e.g. blood pressure, cholesterol, HIV, thermometers)
Birth control products (e.g. prophylactics) Hearing aid batteries
Contact lens solution Heat wraps (e.g. ThermaCare)
Denture adhesives Heating pads, hot water bottles
Diabetic supplies (including insulin) Medicine dropper/spoon
Ear supplies (e.g. ear plugs) Motion sickness devices
First aid supplies (e.g. band-aids) Supports/braces (e.g. ankle, knee, wrist, therapeutic glove)

List of eligible medications that require prescription

Unfortunately a lot of medications, over the counter medications, now require a prescription. Some examples include –

Acne medications Lactose intolerance pills
Allergy and sinus medications (e.g. Benadryl, Claritin, Sudafed) Pain relievers (e.g. aspirin, Excedrin, Tylenol, Advil, Motrin)
Anti-fungal medications (e.g. Lotramin AF) Motion sickness pills
Anti-itch medications (e.g. Caladryl, Cortizone) Nasal sprays for congestion (e.g. Afrin)
Cold sore medications Pre-natal vitamins
Cough, cold & flu remedies Sleeping aids
Decongestants Suppositories
Diaper rash ointments Toothache relievers (e.g. Orajel)
First aid creams Wart remover medications
Gastrointestinal aids (antacid) Yeast infection creams (e.g. Monistat)

List of eligible medications that will require a prescription and a letter of necessity

There is no change in this category. Some medications always required an extra letter of necessity from the doctor, like the following.

Calcium supplements Hormone therapy
Fiber supplements Joint supplements
Foot insoles Nasal strips & snore relief
Herbal medicines Vaporizers/humidifiers
Homeopathic remedies Vitamins/minerals/supplements


Now you have to get a prescription too.

What can you do to prepare and use your money wisely

All the changes are going into effect only on Jan 1, 2011. So there is plenty of time to prepare and plan.

Stock up now : You can still buy OTC medications without a prescription until Dec 2010. So stop by Lehan Drugs and stock up on things you might need before the changes take place on 1/1/2011!

*Compression socks/stockings will not require a prescription going forward but a letter of medical necessity will be needed to purchase compression products with FSA funds! 

Set aside the correct amount : When planning how much money to set aside for your 2011 health spending, you should take the new changes into account. If you don’t spend the entire amount because you didn’t get a prescription for over-the-counter medicine you figured into your reimbursements, then you’ll most likely lose the money left at the end of the plan year, or pay a penalty depending on the type of account.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask a Lehan Drugs pharmacist!

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