NCPA: Members left out of the FSA mix

NEW YORK Beyond small business being lost in the big government shuffle, NCPA’s emphasis on this issue only stresses the importance behind over-the-counter medicines and the class of medicine inclusion as an eligible expense under flexible spending accounts.


Because, really, there can be only one impetus behind this letter — one of many customers walked into their local community pharmacy attempting to use an FSA debit card and had to be turned away.


And with that, there may be a couple between-the-line issues here. For example, FSA utilization has always seemed somewhat anemic — only one-third of employees take advantage according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But if enough independent consumers are complaining of not being able to use their card at their pharmacy of choice, that may suggest that FSA utilization is larger than currently anticipated. Or it could mean that OTC use is heavier among employees with FSA accounts, making this niche demographic a highly-prized marketing demographic. Or, it could mean a larger proportion of FSA users patronize independent pharmacies.

Regardless, what it certainly means is that OTCs are an important part of the FSA mix, something Congress leaders ought to take into consideration in debating any healthcare reform legislation that opts to eliminate the OTC tax benefit.

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