Less-flexible FSAs: What's on tap for 2012

As open enrollment comes to a close, it’s become clear that flexible spending accounts (FSAs) have lost their luster thanks to the healthcare reform law. But hope is here for those longing for the good old days of the FSA.
One mandate in the healthcare reform law says expenses for over-the-counter (OTC) drugs that aren’t prescribed by a doctor (except insulin) can’t be reimbursed using funds from:

  • Flexible spending arrangements (FSAs)
  • Health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs)
  • Health savings accounts (HSAs), and
  • Archer medical savings accounts (MSAs).

The mandate has proven to be a huge hassle for many individuals and pharmacies.
The inconvenience of having to visit a doctor before picking up OTC meds has left fewer health plan participants wanting to use FSA accounts, and the increased paperwork has left some pharmacies unwilling to fill OTC meds paid for out of FSA accounts, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
What’s ahead
Many organizations are planning changes in 2012 in an attempt to bring some of the luster back to FSAs.
For example: The Wall Street Journal report says some third-party administrators of FSAs are starting to offer a form that allows doctors to list all the OTC meds a patient would need throughout the year.
An FSA participant would then only have to visit their doctor once a year to obtain the OTC meds he/she needs.
It’s worth checking to see if your administrator offers this “master prescription” form and, if it does, presenting that info to your employees this enrollment season.
Some doctor’s offices are also providing the form, so encourage your workers to ask around.
Restrictions to get thrown out?
2012 could also bring about major legislative change that could get the new OTC restrictions repealed.
Six pieces of legislation have already been introduced between the House and Senate that would roll back the requirement that FSA participants obtain a doctor’s prescription for OTC medicine reimbursement.
Would you like to see the FSA restrictions repealed? Share your opinions in the Reply box below.