IRS Defines "Prescription" and Announces Transition Period for OTC Purchases with Debit Cards

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The IRS released guidance related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and its corresponding definition of "prescription," and announced a transition period until January 16th for the use of debit cards in relation to prescription purchases.

Section 213(d)(3) defines a prescribed drug as a drug or biological that requires a prescription of
a physician for its use by an individual. In contrast, under 106(f), 223(d)(2)(A) and 220(d)(2)(A), an individual may be reimbursed for over-the counter medicines or drugs, so long as the individual obtains a prescription for the medicines or drugs. For purposes of 106(f), 223(d)(2)(A) and 220(d)(2)(A) only, a "prescription" means a written or electronic order for a medicine or drug that meets the legal requirements of a prescription in the state in which the medical expense is incurred and that is issued by an individual who is legally authorized to issue a prescription in that state.

The IRS will not challenge the use of health FSA and HRA debit cards for expenses incurred through January 15, 2011 if the use of the debit cards complies with previously accepted IRS Regulations. However, on and after January 16, 2011, over-the-counter medicine or drug purchases at all providers and merchants (whether or not they have an inventory information approval system (IIAS)) must be substantiated before reimbursement may be made.

Substantiation is accomplished by submitting the prescription (or a copy of the prescription or other documentation that a prescription has been issued) for the over-the-counter medicine or drug, and other information from an independent third party that satisfies the requirements under Prop.Treas. Reg. 1.125-6(b)(3)(i). Thus, for example, a customer receipt issued by a pharmacy which identifies the name of the purchaser (or the name of the person for whom the prescription applies), the date and amount of the purchase and an Rx number satisfies the substantiation requirements for over-the-counter medicines or drugs, as does a receipt without an Rx number accompanied by a copy of the related prescription. Debit cards may continue to be used for medical expenses other than over-the-counter medicines or drugs.

To read more from the IRS Notice, click here.

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