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Pharmacy Teams Help Patients Maximize FSA Funds Before Year End

by Margo Fuerst | Dec 20, 2011

Creative solutions to alleviate medical expenses

WASHINGTON, DC - With the year end fast approaching, retail pharmacy teams, including PTCB Certified Pharmacy Technicians (CPhTs), continue to provide patients with practical solutions on how to best utilize remaining 2011 Flexible Spending Account (FSA) funds.

An FSA is a voluntary employer-sponsored benefit allowing over 35 million families in the United States to set aside pre-tax dollars to pay for medical expenses not covered by regular health insurance. Expenses may include insurance copayments and deductibles, behavioral health services, medical devices, and insulin. An FSA can save an individual up to 40% on items typically paid for out-of-pocket, depending upon their tax-bracket.

“The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that American families spend $185 per year on OTC medications,” said Megan Sheahan, PharmD, PTCB Director of Professional Affairs. “Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians play an active role in communicating to patients and families that, in addition to being an affordable and accessible component of health care, OTC medications are often eligible for FSA reimbursement with a prescription.”

In January 2011, the Affordable Care Act established a new standard, classifying many over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as cold and flu products as eligible for reimbursement with a prescription from a physician.  

“Community pharmacies are committed to helping patients make smart health decisions for themselves and their families, including helping patients make the best use of their flexible healthcare spending accounts,” said John Fiacco, vice president and general manager of Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacies. “Pharmacy registers at many Medicine Shoppe and Medicap pharmacies are even equipped with the latest FSA-approved product information, to help patients understand which products qualify for their flexible spending accounts.”

FSA participants are often required to spend their entire annual election before the end of the calendar year, or they . Pharmacy teams in retail settings are actively engaging with consumers to increase the value of this employee benefit and offer practical suggestions on how to maximize FSA contributions.

For additional information on 2011 FSA changes, please visit www.irs.gov.