Acne Medicine: FSA Eligibility

Acne Medicine: requires a prescription to be eligible with a Flexible Spending Account (FSA)

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

What is acne medicine?

Acne medicine is designed to alleviate the skin imperfections that arise when dead skin cells, dirt and oils clog hair follicles that lead to pimples and painful bumps on the face, neck, chest, back and shoulders. Acne is most common among teenagers who are experiencing puberty, but it can also occur in children and adults in varying frequencies. While prescription acne medicines are available, over-the-counter (OTC) products are typically the most popular and can prove effective in preventing and alleviating acne breakouts (Mayo Clinic).

OTC acne products come in a variety of forms, including lotions, gels, foams and towelettes. These products work in varying ways depending on their active ingredients. For instance, some products are designed to remove excess dirt and oil that can cause pimples, while others kill bacteria that can cause inflammation (Mayo Clinic). The most common ingredients to look for include:

  • Salicylic Acid: This ingredient comes in varying strengths, and plays a vital role in removing dirt, oil and other particulates that clog pores and lead to pimples. However, excessive use of salicylic acid could lead to skin irritation.
  • Benzoyl Peroxide: This is one of the most common ingredients in OTC acne medicines that can kill bacteria that contribute to the formation of acne. Like salicylic acid, overuse of benzoyl peroxide could lead to skin irritation, and be sure to avoid allowing benzoyl peroxide to come into contact with hair or clothing as it can bleach them.
  • Sulfur: Sulfur is extremely effective in removing dead skin cells from the surface of skin, and is typically used as a secondary ingredient in acne medicines.
  • Azelaic Acid: For individuals with sensitive skin, azelaic acid is less caustic than benzoyl peroxide but still effective at clearing clogged pores and treating acne breakouts.

Why does acne medicine reimbursement require a prescription?

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 from a physician for each product. This does not apply to the reimbursement of the cost of insulin (insulin is an exception to the rule), but common OTC products like pain relief medications, cold & flu products and more require a prescription for FSA reimbursement.

However, not every OTC product falls under this distinction, as products like bandages, first aid supplies, diagnostic products and more do not require a prescription for FSA reimbursement. For more information on a specific product, please consult our Eligibility List.

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Specifically Not Covered

Acne Medicine is not eligible without a prescription.

Legal Information / Regulations

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

Check out these FSA Eligible Categories