KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Changes To Flexible Spending Accounts Raise Concerns

NPR reports on the upcoming change to flexible spending accounts, when "you'll no longer be able to set aside pretax dollars in that account to use for medicines bought without a doctor's prescription," and looks at the "loophole" that may allow consumers to use FSA dollars on over-the-counter medication if they obtain a prescription for it. "A lot of people who opposed the change think that loophole may lead to a lot of extra trips to the doctor. 'It makes no sense - the whole notion of overburdening doctors to write prescriptions for aspirin or Claritin or something, just again is so wasteful,' said Dennis Triplett, chairman of the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation, a coalition that tried to stop the changes to the accounts. … Also lining up in opposition to the changes are the people who make and sell over-the-counter drugs" (Rovner, 11/12).

Healthwatch: An employer-backed group called Save Flexible Spending Plans "is pressing the new leaders in Congress to alleviate restrictions placed on flexible spending accounts by the health reform law." The group is asking Congress to "repeal - or at least delay" the requirement to have a doctor's prescription, to "increase the new $2,500 annual contribution limit that starts Jan. 1, 2013, to $5,000" and to "allow participants to roll over $500 or cash out unused funds at the end of the year" (Pecquet, 11/11).

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