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April 29, 2010

OTC drugs to lose flex spending eligibility

Pitt employees who use health care flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to pay for over-the-counter items could face headaches next year, thanks to federal health care reform legislation.

As of Jan. 1, 2011, over-the-counter items no longer will be reimbursable through FSAs.

Health care FSAs allow employees to set aside pre-tax dollars to pay for medical, dental or vision care expenses. Contributions can range from $10 per month to $5,000 per year, but any amount not used during the plan year is forfeited, so employees must plan ahead when deciding how much to set aside.

Over-the-counter expenses incurred prior to Dec. 31, 2010, will be eligible for reimbursement through the FSA as a 2010-11 plan year expense.

Director of Benefits John Kozar said Pitt employees need to keep the changes in mind when deciding during open enrollment the amount of their health care FSA contribution for the upcoming year, which begins July 1.

“There will not be an opportunity to make a change later since this change made under health care reform is not a life event that permits such changes to be made,” according to Kozar.

The current open enrollment period closes May 12. Additional information is available at or by contacting the University’s new FSA administrator, UPMC Health Plan, at 888/499-6885.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

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