What You Can, Cannot Buy With Your FSA in 2011

Rules change what's eligible for reimbursement under use-it-or-lose-it plans

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2011  |  Updated 5:36 PM CDT
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Don't let the funds in your flexible spending account go wasted. There are some new rules you need to know on how to spend your money.

Don't let the funds in your flexible spending account go wasted. There are some new rules you need to know on how to spend your money.

Restrictions put in place with the Affordable Care Act may have some out buying condoms and pregnancy tests rather than cold medicines and over-the-counter drugs before the end of the year.

For millions of Americans, the final few weeks of the year mean a trip to the pharmacy to spend the use-it-or-lose-it money they have in Flexible Spending Accounts. But changes to what's eligible for reimbursement will no doubt have many changing their game plans.

"Cough and cold products and pain relievers, which were kind of the big items, require prescription now in order for it to be FSA available," explained Julie White, a pharmacy manager at a Walgreens in Chicago's Loop.

Examples of other items requiring prescription include:

  • allergy and sinus medication
  • sleeping aids
  • anti-itch creams

Examples of products that remain FSA-approved include:

  • first aid products
  • eye care products
  • contraceptives
  • adult diapers
  • crutches, supports and braces
  • heating pads
  • health monitors
  • sunscreen
  • vaccinations

"Your own personal employers website may have some information for your insurance, but the IRS is ultimately where we're all getting that information," said White.

IRS.gov: Affordable Care Act: Questions and Answers on Over-the-Counter Medicines and Drugs

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