NYT article: FSA changes shed light on old eligibility problems

NEW YORK A New York Times report published Tuesday illustrated exactly how far apart the rubber is from the road when it comes to incentivizing preventive healthcare practices and the implementation of the new rules associated with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Even as common over-the-counter remedies soon will require a prescription in order to be eligible for reimbursement under flexible spending account arrangements, tried and true preventive healthcare practices, such as breast-feeding, are not and in fact have never been considered eligible for FSA reimbursement, the report noted. “With all the changes the healthcare overhaul will bring in the coming years, it nonetheless will leave those regulations intact when new rules for flexible spending accounts go into effect in January,” the report read.

Breast pumps are not considered eligible FSA expenditures despite the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics made a direct appeal to the Internal Revenue Service to define such products as breast pumps as a device used for medical care. In May 2009, the IRS determined that breast pumps do not diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat or prevent disease. However, the Food and Drug Administration regulates the manufacture of breast pumps as medical devices, and there are numerous studies that establish the preventive health benefits for children consuming their mother’s breast milk.

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