CARES Act - Buying over-the-counter medicine with an HSA just got easier Skip to content

CARES Act - Buying over-the-counter medicine with an HSA just got easier


The recent Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (the "CARES Act") signed into law includes a key provision that can benefit everyone with a health savings account (HSA) or other health accounts.*

Those with an HSA and other health accounts can now use those funds to pay for over-the-counter (OTC) medicine, without a prescription.

Why the change matters

OTC medication includes Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen and many other medications Americans use every day to treat illnesses and feel better.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) found that, without OTC medicines, 90% of consumers would have gone to the doctor instead. On the other hand, if OTC medicines weren't available, 27 million people would not seek treatment.

For the healthcare system as a whole, CHPA found that every dollar spent on OTC medicines saves the U.S. healthcare system more than seven dollars. And those savings can really add up.

what the changes mean for you

Managed Healthcare Executive Magazine reported that the average U.S. household spent $442 annually on OTC drugs. Before now, all of that cost had to be out-of-pocket, or could only be reimbursed from your account with a prescription from your physician. With the new rules in the CARES Act, millions of individuals can now use their HSA and other health account funds to pay some or all of that cost. Unlike some of the other provisions in the CARES act, this change applies to all OTC purchases as of January 1, 2020 and has no expiration.

OTC medication is a first line of defense for millions of Americans every year to treat illnesses and other ailments. This new rule could help ease the strain of the healthcare system and drive huge cost savings for individuals, families and the nation.

 For more information on how the CARES Act impacts HealthEquity Members, click here.

For more information on how the CARES Act impacts HealthEquity Employers, click here.

OTC Health Equity


* Plans vary by employer, and these changes do not necessarily change the benefits available under your employer's plan. Please review plan documents carefully or consult your employer for information about your company's benefits.

HealthEquity does not provide legal, tax, financial, or medical advice.




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