Over the counter meds won't be covered by Flex plans in 2011 - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Many over the counter meds won't be covered by Flex plans in 2011

Louisville, KY -

By Matt McCutcheon - e-mail | bio
Posted by Mike Dever - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - How you pay for some of your most common medications will be changing in the new year.

Come January 2011, you'll still be able to use your flex card for medications behind the counter, like prescriptions; but where the changes really come into play are for the medications you buy over the counter, like Tylenol for example.

"For your flexible spending accounts you're going to have very different medications that are covered," said Lynn Harrelson with Wagner's Pharmacy.

Flexible spending accounts allow a certain amount of money to be set aside each year for medical expenses like deductibles, vision exams and, in recent years, many kinds of over the counter medications. You can either send in receipts and be reimbursed for eligible expenses or charge them on a debit card that's pre-loaded with the amount of money set aside for the calendar year.

Then every pay period, an amount is automatically deducted from your check, allowing you to use those funds for medical expenses without being taxed on them. But the items eligible for reimbursement through your Flex plan are shrinking in 2011.

"Your cough and cold medicine," Harrelson said. "Some of the female items, different types of tablets and capsules, may or may not be covered under your plan."

That could cause some headaches, because in 2011, most over the counter medications won't be eligible unless you have a doctor's note recommending the drugs.

It's part of the new healthcare reform bill passed this year and is one of many changes Wagner's Pharmacy has seen over its many decades in business. They say they see both the good and the bad out of the new restrictions.

"You know, I look at it like a double-edge sword," Harrelson said. "I think sometimes patients wait too long to see their physicians, so they'll use over counters longer than they should and their conditions worsen, but sometimes people can't afford to go to the doctor."

And if you're looking to save money, pharmacists say your best bet is often generic medications, which can sometimes be about half the cost of name brands.

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