Benadryl: HSA Eligibility

Benadryl: requires a prescription to be eligible with a Health Savings Account (HSA)

Benadryl is an over-the-counter (OTC) medication that requires a prescription for reimbursement with a flexible spending account (FSA), health savings account (HSA) and a health reimbursement arrangement. Benadryl is not eligible for reimbursement with a dependent care flexible spending account (DCFSA) or a limited care flexible spending account (LCFSA).

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What is Benadryl and what does it treat?

Benadryl is one of the most popular antihistamines on the market that treats a wide variety of allergic symptoms that can arise year-round. Benadryl utilizes the active ingredient diphenhydramine, that acts as a histamine blocker in the body to combat the effects of allergies, including itching, watery eyes, nasal and throat congestion. Additionally, Benadryl can be used to fight symptoms of the common cold, such as sneezing or runny noses. The product is available in tablets, liquid, topical anti-itch creams and nasal sprays for both children and adults.

What is an antihistamine?

Antihistamines are over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that are used to block the body's production of histamine, which is produced during the body's inflammatory response to the presence of an allergen or another microbe that the body views as an invader. Antihistamines work by blocking the histamine receptors in each cell, so as histamine travels throughout the body, it cannot activate these receptors and affect the cell. Without the use of antihistamines, common allergic symptoms like swelling, itching, nasal and lung congestion and others will continue as long as allergens are present (WebMD).

What conditions does Benadryl treat?

Benadryl is primarily used to combat the body's inflammatory response to allergens, but it also plays a major role in managing the symptoms of the following conditions via WebMD:

  • Mild or moderate reactions to food allergies (severe reactions require medical attention)
  • Hay Fever/Allergic Rhinitis
  • Allergic Conjunctivitis
  • Allergic Skin Conditions (eczema, hives)
  • Insect Bites and Stings
  • Motion Sickness
  • Insomnia
  • Stomach Ulcers

Why does Benadryl reimbursement require a prescription?

As a result of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), as of January 1, 2011, OTC items containing an active medical ingredient require a prescription for reimbursement with an FSA, HSA or HRA. To reimburse the cost of OTC medicines and drugs under FSAs, HSAs and other consumer spending accounts, account holders must submit a prescription for each product.

However, not every OTC product falls under this distinction and thousands of products continue to remain eligible without a prescription including bandages, first aid supplies, most sunscreens, diagnostic products, products for infant care and so much more. For more information on a specific product, be sure to consult our Eligibility List.

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Specifically Not Covered

Not eligible without a prescription.

Legal Information / Regulations

Prescription Required. Information Letter (IL) 2009-0209; Notice 2010-59.