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Obamacare costs me money

We have one of those flexible spending accounts. The deal with those, roughly, is that the money you put in the account isn’t taxed and you can spend it on health care related things. Things like medicine, co-pays, and other things. Well, thanks to Obamacare, you can now use it on less:

Section 9003 of the Affordable Care Act established a new uniform standard for medical expenses. Effective Jan. 1, 2011, distributions from health FSAs and HRAs will be allowed to reimburse the cost of over-the-counter medicines or drugs only if they are purchased with a prescription. This new rule does not apply to reimbursements for the cost of insulin, which will continue to be permitted, even if purchased without a prescription.

Guess I’ll have to stock up when we fill prescriptions.

11 Responses to “Obamacare costs me money”

  1. Lance R. Peak Says:

    Unc, I’m pretty sure that means you have to have a prescription for the item purchased, not that they are reimbursable if you buy something with a prescription at the same time.

    In other words, you’d have to get your MD to write a prescription for tylenol, afrin, advil, etc.

    I could be wrong, but I fear I’m not.

  2. Jeff the Baptist Says:

    Yup. Thankfully my FSA was mostly used to pay for my wife’s prescriptions anyway.

  3. The Comedian Says:

    The sneakiest part about this change was that many employers didn’t notify employees of the change until after the “open election” period ended.

    That is to say that people had to decide how much money to put away next year in their FSAs (medical & dependent care) BEFORE they were told that they wouldn’t be able to spend med-flex dollars on OTC meds anymore. If you like to budget in your now off-prescription allergy meds and/or acid controllers, you now can’t do so unless you get a prescription, for non-prescription drugs…

    (Behold the improved efficiency. Just look at it.)

    Conspiracy aside: What happens to money in Medical FSAs that isn’t spent/reimbursed during the plan period? Does it forfeit to the employer or is it escheat?

  4. Countertop Says:

    Not just that, but next year the total amount you can set aside in the account is capped at $2500.

    For most people that’s not a big deal. But if you are in physical therapy, or have a child with special needs hour screwed.

    My youngest son has severe speech apraxia and requires private speech therapy 3 days a week. It’s not cheap. I make a decent living, but a $300 a week cost has a huge impact on our lifestyle (and no, the damn insurance companies don’t cover speech disorders because you may outgrow it). Right now, we can pay the entire cost via the flexible spending account – and save about 1/3 the cost. Next year, we are screwed as are all of our therapists other clients.

    She’s Obamas base. Jewish hippie chick. Peace live and children and all that. And can’t believe Obama decided to sorigidly and directly target “the good people” (her term). As she said to us, it’s not like either she or her clients are billionaires.

    As of now, she will never vote for Obama or any Democrat again.

  5. Snake Says:

    That’s not “at the same time as a prescription” that’s “only if you have a prescription for your non-prescription drug.”

    Thankfully my doctor has so far been happy to write me a prescription for Advil, benadryl, and my favorite contact lens solution…

  6. Standard Mischief Says:

    >Conspiracy aside: What happens to money in Medical FSAs that isnít spent/reimbursed during the plan period? Does it forfeit to the employer or is it escheat?

    I got laid-off by “big faceless corporation” almost a decade ago. I thought I’d have the rest of the year to spend my flex dollars (which were significant, I was going to get laser eye surgery), but the fine print said I had until the end of my employment date. It took some digging, but the company got to keep my unspent dollars.

    Never again.

    BTW, it’s important to note that the idea behind “use it or lose it” flexible spending is because people who plan ahead for future medical expenses are tougher to sway into signing up for socialized medicine schemes.

    God forbid allowing someone to set aside untaxed money in their own personal account where the owners themselves have full discretion on how and what medical expenses are fully covered by their own personal plan.

  7. John Richardson Says:

    The worst part of making OTC drugs ineligible for flex spending is that many drugs such as ZyrTec, Claritin, etc. have gone off-prescription.

  8. Unix-Jedi Says:

    John:

    According to my local Walgreens (as of this week) you have to have a “letter” from your physician on-record for whatever OTC you want, and that covers the HSA/FSA.

    What a fiasco. I figured this would get waived until the other shit settled – but on the good side, this *is* pounding home to LOTS of people “what’s in the bill we have to pass to know”.

    The Comedian:
    The company gets it. It’s how they make their money running the plan.

    Countertop:
    “As of now, she will never vote for Obama or any Democrat again.”

    Right. And I’m sure she’ll be strong up until, oh, 2012’s primary season. (Sorry. I’ve met a lot of people like her, and they’re so so so so so mad, until they think about voting for anybody not-Democrat, and then the “yeah, but…” starts.

    Especially if O-care gets stymied by the courts/Congress, trust me, she’ll want it done, but _right_ this time. You know, where it doesn’t bite her in the ass and she gets free money.

  9. DirtCrashr Says:

    Does that include chiropractors?

  10. Ed Says:

    Got paid today. Got paid a few bucks less than last year because premiums went up as a result of ObamaCare. It will amount to a couple hundred-odd bucks per year in cost to me, but I also noticed that because my premiums are higher, my taxable income is lower. Less pay was withheld from me and stolen by the Feds. So ObamaCare makes me pay more because insurance companies have to pay more, meanwhile the government gets less, even though it has to pay more. A perfect cost savings for absolutely no-one involved in any part of the “transaction.”

    Yippeee!

  11. Michael Says:

    So, they also reduced the amount of money that you can put in a HSA. Because a HSA is tax-free, this reduction amounts to a tax increase. Remember when Obama said he wouldn’t raise taxes on the middle class? Yeah, me too.