It’s that time of year again, to frantically use up any remaining balances in our Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA). This year, it may be good to stock up on over-the-counter (OTC) medications that you use regularly. (Watch out for expiration dates, but read this Harvard Medical School article first before throwing anything out.)
Effective January 1, 2011, the cost of OTC medications will no longer be payable through a FSA, unless the medication was prescribed by a doctor. If your FSA administrator allows you a certain grace period in 2011 to use leftover funds from the 2010 calendar year, the your actual purchase date must still be before 12/31 to remain eligible. The change does not affect insulin, even if purchased without a prescription, or other health care expenses such as medical devices, eye glasses, contact lenses, co-pays and deductibles. [IRS FAQ]
If you still need certain OTC drugs in 2011, you can always ask your primary doctor to write a prescription for them during your annual checkup. In addition, Target and Walmart offer 30-day supplies for $4 and 90-day supplies for $10 on many generic drugs.
Quick Ideas For Last-Minute FSA Spending
- Advanced refill of prescriptions
- Eye exams
- Contact lenses and lens solution
- Pain killers
- Cold and flu medicines
- First aid supplies for emergency kits
- Condoms and other birth control items
- Ear plugs
- Acne medication
Honestly, I wonder when this whole guess-how-sick-you’ll-be-this-year madness will finally end. If this is our money, why shouldn’t it just roll over every year until we use it for a valid medical expense? Health Savings Accounts have already been around for years now, we can use the existing infrastructure.