Restoring FSA OTC coverage: Better medicine for all

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.