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Restoring FSA OTC coverage: Better medicine for all

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — As much as the Affordable Care Act was a tough pill to swallow for many conservatives, the flexible spending account changes may be the first piece of what many consider to be "bad medicine" to be reversed this year. Incentivizing self-care is better medicine for all constituents.

(THE NEWS: Report: Legislation restoring FSA OTC coverage is coming. For the full story, click here)

DSN has believed for some time that this would be the first piece of ObamaCare to tumble. Here’s why: It’s an easy give back to House Republicans looking for a full repeal, and it’s a show that the Democrats are willing to work with the other side of the aisle. As an aside, it also happens to be the right thing to do, for retailers, for consumer healthcare companies — oh yeah, and for consumers, too.

Requiring patients to obtain prescriptions for over-the-counter medications purchased with pre-tax dollars saves the U.S. government an estimated $9 billion. Conversely, that means Joe Public will be shelling out that much, if not more, on the Tylenol and Pepto-Bismol bought to help soothe the very headaches and upset stomachs caused by escalating healthcare costs. And it’s not just the consumer that’ll be spending more money. An analysis conducted by the Foundation for Healthsmart Consumers found that between doctor visits and retail pharmacies, healthcare costs associated with this provision could reach as high as $4.5 billion if even 10% of the population begins making additional appointments with their practitioners.

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Despite confidence in economy, survey finds consumers not spending more this Valentine’s Day

BY DSN STAFF

LOS ANGELES —  According to a PriceGrabber survey on consumer purchasing decisions for Valentine’s Day, 52% of Valentine’s Day shoppers indicated that the economy will not have any effect on their purchasing decisions for Valentine’s Day 2011. Despite their confidence in the economy, 78% of survey respondents indicated they will not spend more money on Valentine’s Day shopping this year compared with last year. The remaining 22% of consumers plan to spend more on Valentine’s Day shopping this year.

The most popular Valentine’s Day expense among women was greeting cards, with 62% of female Valentine’s Day shoppers planning to purchase greeting cards this year. Forty-two percent of female shoppers anticipated spending money on an evening out, and 26%will purchase candy. 

For male survey respondents, the most popular Valentine’s Day expense was an evening out, selected by 53%. Forty-five percent of male respondents planned to spend money on greeting cards. Forty-five percent planned to spend money on flowers, while 18% anticipated spending money on candy this Valentine’s Day.

The PriceGrabber (a part of Experian) survey was conducted from Jan. 12 to Jan. 26 and polled 2,458 U.S. online consumers who planned to spend money on a Valentine’s Day celebration.

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Are you ready for some football?

BY DSN STAFF

LAUREL, Md. — There’s no mistaking the emphasis of this Pepsi display here at a Shoppers (a Supervalu banner) located between Baltimore and Washington in the week leading up to the National Football League’s main event. 

The eye-catching soda wall is conveniently located opposite the salty snacks display, making chips, dip and soda all an easy grab for the Super Bowl partygoer.

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