Anti-Inflammatories: FSA Eligibility

Anti-Inflammatories: requires a prescription to be eligible with a Flexible Spending Account (FSA)

Anti-inflammatory reimbursement is eligible with a prescription with a flexible spending account (FSA), health savings account (HSA) or a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA). Anti-inflammatory reimbursement is not eligible with a limited care flexible spending account (LCFSA) or a dependent care flexible spending account (DCFSA).

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What are anti-inflammatories?

Anti-inflammatories refer to a slate of drugs, treatments and supplements that are used to combat inflammation in the body, provide pain relief, and control the body's response to irritation or injury. Inflammation begins when hormones in the body force white blood cells into action to tackle infections or repair damaged tissue, which will result in familiar warning signs like heat, pain, redness, and swelling. These are all normal facets of the healing process in the body, but can cause significant discomfort as the body returns to normal.

Anti-inflammatories drugs and treatments come in a variety of forms and are designed to treat a wide variety of medical conditions. These include:

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs make up about half of all over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers sold on the market today, including common products like Ibuprofen, Naproxen and Aspirin. To control pain, these drugs control the body's production of the COX enzyme, which synthesizes prostaglandins which results in inflammation in the body. This effectively reduces inflammation and the associated pain from the condition, and even prescription NSAIDs follow the same mode of action to alleviate pain and inflammation (WebMD).

Ice treatments

Cold packs are one of the most reliable means of controlling inflammation relating to immediate injuries and chronic pain from muscles and joints. Colder temperatures effectively slow down blood flow in the affected area, which reduces inflammation and pain as well as promoting the healing process. In combination with rest, elevation and compression, ice therapy is an extremely effective therapy to combat inflammation (Healthline).


In addition to medically-based treatments for inflammation, there are a wealth of herbal supplements and foods that, while not conclusively proven, may have anti-inflammatory qualities. These supplements include ginger, turmeric, devil's claw, willow's bark and more. Specific foods are also known to have anti-inflammatory properties, including omega-3 fatty acid rich fish, dark leafy greens, nuts, soy, tomatoes and garlic contain immunity-boosting substances that can fight inflammation.

Why do anti-inflammatories 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.

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Specifically Not Covered

Anti-inflammatories are not eligible without a prescription.

Legal Information / Regulations

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

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