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Stimulus package affects health spending accounts

Among the myriad provisions of the CARES Act, two changes were made in what’s covered by Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Spending accounts.

The changes were part of the 880-page stimulus package aimed at providing funds to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Consumers may now use the funds in those accounts to cover non-prescription medications, such as many common allergy and pain-relief drugs, and items for care of menstruation, such as tampons and sanitary pads.

These spending accounts allow employees to set aside a certain amount of their income tax-free to be used for approved medical expenses, such as doctors’ treatments not covered by health insurance, and prescription medications.

Previously, over-the-counter medications weren’t covered unless they were specifically prescribed by a medical professional.

The changes are being lauded by an online medicine provider, Health-E Commerce.

Jeremy Miller, founder and CEO of Health-E Commerce, said the requirement of a doctor’s prescription for non-prescription drugs “has been an inconvenience for FSA/HSA users for a decade, and we applaud the effort to repeal this regulation and give account holders more options to treat medical issues as they arise without putting more stress on our care delivery system at this critical time.”

Miller continued, “In addition, the inclusion of menstrual care products as qualified expenses will help correct the gender imbalance in healthcare reimbursement by reclassifying menstrual care products as what we all know they are — essential health products that should be open to tax-free healthcare spending.”

As a result of the changes, Health-E Commerce’s subsidiary, FSAstore.com, which focuses on supplying items covered under flexible spending accounts, will expand its online offerings. The online store will soon include a wider variety of non-prescription medications, and for the first time offer menstruation products for sale.

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