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New Year Means New Changes In Drug Coverage

If you use a flexible savings account to pay for aspirin, allergy pills or heartburn remedies be ready: that will not be allowed as of Jan. 1.

Flexible savings accounts are the funds some employees set up so they can use pre-tax dollars for co-payments, deductibles and over-the-counter medications.

Rich Parker, medical director for the 1,800-member Beth Israel Deaconess Physicians Organization, says over-the-counter medications will not be eligible after Jan. 1 unless the patient has a prescription for ibuprofen or decongestants.

"So, the net affect of that will be thousands of unnecessary phone calls to our busy offices asking doctors to write ridiculous prescriptions for things that are over-the-counter, so all that will do is increase the work burden for doctors and their offices," Parker said.

The change comes after Congress eliminated the flexible savings tax break to help fund expanded coverage under the new national health care law.

This program aired on December 29, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

Martha Bebinger Twitter Reporter
Martha Bebinger covers health care and other general assignments for WBUR.

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