Are Over-the-Counter Medicines and Drugs Deductible?

1. How are the rules changing for reimbursing the cost of over-the-counter medicines and drugs from health flexible spending arrangements (health FSAs) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs)?

Answer. Section 9003 of the Affordable Care Act established a new uniform standard for medical expenses. Effective Jan. 1, 2011, distributions from health FSAs and HRAs will be allowed to reimburse the cost of over-the-counter medicines or drugs only if they are purchased with a prescription. This new rule does not apply to reimbursements for the cost of insulin, which will continue to be permitted, even if purchased without a prescription.

2. How are the rules changing for distributions from health savings accounts (HSAs) and Archer Medical Savings Accounts (Archer MSAs) that are used to reimburse the cost of over-the-counter medicines and drugs?
A. In accordance with Section 9003 of the Affordable Care Act, only prescribed medicines or drugs (including over-the-counter medicines and drugs that are prescribed) and insulin (even if purchased without a prescription) will be considered qualifying medical expenses and subject to preferred tax treatment.

3. When will the changes become effective?
A. The changes are effective for purchases of over-the-counter medicines and drugs without a prescription after Dec. 31, 2010. The changes do not affect purchases of over-the-counter medicines and drugs in 2010, even if they are reimbursed after Dec. 31, 2010.

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