Cough Suppressant: FSA Eligibility

Cough suppressant is an eligible over-the-counter (OTC) medication with a prescription with a flexible spending account (FSA), health savings account (HSA) or a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA). Cough suppressant reimbursement is not eligible with a limited care flexible spending account (LCFSA) or a dependent care flexible spending account (DCFSA).

How do cough suppressants work?

Cough suppressants, also referred to as antitussives, are OTC medications that are designed to treat recurring dry coughs that are commonly associated with the flu and the common cold. These medicines work to relieve coughing fits by blocking the cough reflex in the body that are typically caused by throat and bronchial irritation. Cough suppressants are typically available in syrups, lozenges, sprays, pills, gel caps and more (WebMD).

However, it's important to remember that while cough suppressants can control the cough reflex in the body, it will not treat the underlying condition, especially cough symptoms that are caused by mucous and postnasal drip. For cough symptoms that are caused by mucous buildup, cough suppressants are usually used in tandem with expectorants to create combination medicines. Expectorants are designed to thin mucous in the nasal passages to make it easier to clear out, so they are often used in tandem with cough suppressants. Additionally, other medications like antihistamines, decongestants and pain relievers may be included as well in combination medicines, which are especially helpful in treating colds that have a wide range of potential symptoms (VeryWell Health).

Why do cough suppressants require a prescription for reimbursement?

As a result of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), as of January 1, 2011, OTC items containing an active medical ingredient require a prescription for reimbursement with an FSA, HSA or HRA. To reimburse the cost of OTC medicines and drugs under FSAs, HSAs and other consumer spending accounts, account holders must submit a prescription for each product.

However, not every OTC product falls under this distinction and thousands of products continue to remain eligible without a prescription including bandages, first aid supplies, most sunscreens, diagnostic products, products for infant care and so much more. For more information on a specific product, be sure to consult our Eligibility List.

Eligibility Table

Flexible Spending Account (FSA) Limited Care FSA Dependent Care FSA Health Savings Account (HSA) Health Reimbursement Account (HRA)


Eligible with Rx

Eligible with LMN

Not Eligible

Additional Information's Prescription Process can help. Click Here to learn more.

Specifically Not Covered

Not eligible without a prescription.

Legal Information / Regulations

Prescription Required. Information Letter (IL) 2009-0209; Notice 2010-59.