Sunday, October 17, 2010

Some provisions of the new health care law will impact everyone

The passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act this past Mach means that some additional changes will be made to health plan offerings that may impact your health care budget.  One, a favorite of mine, is the wide variety of uses for Flexible Spending and Health Savings Account funds.  From a post I wrote previously, I outlined the advantages and disadvantages of these accounts.  However, regardless of what type in which you may contribute, beginning in January 2011, the eligible usage of these funds won't be as broad as in the past.

From the revised IRS guidelines, FSAs and HSAs funds will no longer be eligible for purchasing certain over-the-counter medicines and remedies.  Instead, consumers will largely only be able to use these funds for prescriptions, co-pays, and other eligible medical-related purchases.  It's a bummer, as even cold medication was covered previously.  More so, pharmacies may fill a bit of a pinch as well on these changes.  Whereas in the past a consumer may be more willing to buy a remedy for a cold, as an example, rather than wait it out, now, without being able to use pre-tax dollars for medications, this restriction may just discourage some from seeking treatment.

With open enrollment around the corner, keep in mind that your ability to use FSAs/HSAs may be more limited than in the past, thus, don't "over-fund" your contributions.  Try to estimate your co-pays and prescription drug needs as accurately as possible to prevent wasting money.