When you participate in a Health Savings Account (HSA) and/or Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you’re able to contribute pre-tax funds for use on hundreds of eligible expenses. Recently, you gained even more flexibility in your ability to save when the CARES Act was signed into law.
This new legislation expanded the list of expenses that are considered eligible by including popular over-the-counter products, which you can now purchase with your HSA or FSA without a prescription. This change went into effect on January 1, 2020. That’s great news for consumers, since the average American shops for over-the-counter medications 26 times each year. We’ve compiled five of the most common expenses that are now eligible for your HSA and FSA funds without a prescription.
Pain relief medications
Headaches. Muscle soreness. Sprains. There are so many reasons that you may need pain relievers. There are two common types of over-the-counter pain medications: acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), both of which are now among the eligible expenses available from your HSA and FSA.
Cold and flu products
Winter may be behind us, but cold and flu season never really goes away. As much as 20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu, on average each season. Fortunately, the over-the-counter medicines you so often turn to when coping with a severe cough or congestion are now eligible expenses.
Thirty percent of American adults and 40 percent of children suffer from allergies. And the cost of allergies to the healthcare system is estimated at $18 billion. Those who do have allergies can now find relief with their HSA and FSA funds in the form of over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants.
Heartburn is among the more common afflictions in this country. That’s why Americans spend billions of dollars each year on medicines that treat heartburn. The CARES Act means that these over-the-counter drugs are HSA and FSA eligible without a prescription.
The CARES Act also included menstrual care products as eligible expenses for HSAs and FSAs. Eligible products include tampons, pads and menstrual sponges.
A note about timing: When will everything be in place for card swipes to work for now-approved OTC items? We anticipate that SIGIS and merchant implementation of the new eligible item list will occur gradually within 4-6 weeks of the President signing the bill into law. We’re excited to let you know that SIGIS updated its eligible products list on Monday, April 13, 2020 for merchants to download. Current SIGIS rules require merchants to update their point of sale systems on at least a monthly basis, so you can expect benefits debit cards to work for these purchases in the next 30 days. However, it is important to emphasize that each merchant will adhere to their own timeline for completion of this process based on their unique internal considerations, and card processors have no ability to influence this. We thank the SIGIS staff and the Eligible Products List Committee (of which many of the members are WEX partners) for their hard work providing fast solutions for employers and participants.
Would you like to learn more about your employee benefits and the COVID-19 pandemic? Check out our resource page.