Tightened Rules on FSAs Almost Here

Wednesday, Dec 29, 2010  |  Updated 1:11 AM CDT
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Starting in the New Year, flexible-spending accounts for medical expenses are about to be a little less elastic.

Scott Friedman, NBCDFW.com

Starting in the New Year, flexible-spending accounts for medical expenses are about to be a little less elastic.

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Starting in the New Year, flexible-spending accounts for medical expenses are about to be a little less elastic.

People will not be able use the accounts to pay for over-the-counter medications -- even allergy medicine and pain relievers -- unless they have a prescription.

And even with a prescription, people with accounts that have debit cards will have to pay for over-the-counter medication out of their pocket and submit receipts for reimbursement instead of charging it to their card.

The new government rules for the accounts go into effect on Saturday.

Dr. Daniel Pham's Baylor Grapevine office expects a New Year's wave of calls from patients needing prescriptions so they can be use FSA money for nonprescription drugs.

Some patients will need to see the doctor for a prescription, which could lead to a backlog of appointments.

"This is a very new thing we've only known about since September, and I don't think many have known or are aware about it yet," Pham said.

He suggests people stock up on the over-the-counter drugs they need before the end of the year if they still have money on their 2010 account.

But that strategy could also lead to shortage of some medications.

The popular savings accounts will see more changes in 2013. FSA account contributions will be limited to $2,500 per worker in 2013, half of the current maximum of $5,000.

NBC DFW's Scott Friedman contributed to this report.

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