CHPA said Thursday that the bill, introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Lynn Jenkins (R., Kan.) and Ron Kind (D., Wis.), would repeal a provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires consumers to get a prescription to use money in flexible spending arrangements (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) to purchase nonprescription medications.
“We thank Rep. Jenkins and Rep. Kind for their leadership in working to restore FSA and HSA holders’ right to use their set-aside dollars to purchase commonly used OTC medicines without an unnecessary and costly doctor visit,” CHPA president and chief executive officer Scott Melville said in a statement. “This legislation is a great example of commonsense reform that would reduce the cost of health care and lessen the burden on physicians imposed by current FSA/HSA restrictions.”
A 2012 Booz & Company study estimated that OTC medicines provide $102 billion dollars in savings to our nation’s healthcare system every year, thanks in part due to avoided doctor’s visits that could be otherwise treated with OTC medicines. That same study noted that for every dollar consumers spend on over-the-counter medicines, it saves the U.S. healthcare system $6-7 dollars.
According to the American Association of Preferred Provider Organizations, 45 million Americans hold tax-preferred savings accounts, including HSAs and FSAs. A 2014 Nielsen study notes that 74 percent of U.S. adults are in favor of a change in the law that would allow individuals to once again use FSA funds to purchase OTC products.
“As today’s consumers are being required to absorb larger copays and deductibles in their health plans, they are increasingly turning to FSA and HSA offerings and demanding value in their healthcare choices. It’s therefore more important than ever to restore OTC medicines as medically reimbursable healthcare therapies under FSA/HSA programs – just like prescription medicines and other healthcare products and services.”
The bill is supported by the Health Choices Coalition, which represents physicians, consumers, retailers, manufacturers, pharmacies, pharmacists, patients, pharmacy benefit managers, small businesses, and employers in an effort to stop the unintended consequences resulting from the ACA restriction on OTCs.