If you've ever purchased over-the-counter (OTC) medicines with an FSA, you know that in order to buy these items with an FSA card or be reimbursed for a claim, you will need a prescription from a physician for these products. After the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (also commonly referred to as Obamacare) went into effect January 1, 2011, new restrictions were put into place regarding the purchase of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines with consumer-directed health accounts like FSAs and HSAs. This OTC Rx provision is a totally new restriction on account holders which requires them to submit a prescription from a physician to purchase OTC medicines with a consumer-directed healthcare account.
But while the provision may have had honorable intent in reducing drug "stockpiling", it has instead passed a heavy burden onto FSA/HSA account holders. As such, Congress has introduced The Restoring Access to Medication Act of 2015, also known as HR 1270, to restore the ability of plan participants to use the funds in their HSA, FSA, HRA or Archer MSA to purchase over-the-counter medications.
Does HR 1270 have a chance of passing?
As a result of the OTC provision, doctors are now saddled with the task of writing otherwise unnecessary prescriptions for medications to fight the common cold, flu or allergies. This has lead to inevitable increased wait times in doctor's offices, greater costs in time money for consumers and strained physician-patient relationships. Patients are forced to reach out to physicians to purchase EVERY over-the-counter product with a medicated ingredient, such as pain relievers, allergy medicines and more.
HR 1270 passed in the House of Representatives on July 6, 2016 and goes to the Senate next. The bill would remove the most difficult restrictions involving the purchase of OTC medications, but it only has a chance of passing with consistent public pressure.
As of January 10, 2017, HR 1270 has been re-introduced to the 115th Congress as HR 394, a nearly identical version of the bill that has bipartisan support and a real chance of passing in the coming year. Be sure to check back at FSAstore.com and on our social media channels for continued updates around the bill's progress and hopefully the future repeal of the OTC Rx provision.