Chondroitin: FSA Eligibility

Chondroitin: eligible with a Flexible Savings Account (FSA)
Chondroitin is an eligible over-the-counter (OTC) medical expense with a flexible spending account (FSA), health savings account (HSA) or a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA). Chondroitin reimbursement is not eligible with a limited care flexible spending account (LCFSA) or a dependent care flexible spending account (DCFSA).

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

What is chondroitin?

Chondroitin sulfate, or chondroitin for shorthand, is one of the most common nutritional supplements used to treat joint disorders, improve overall joint function and slow the progression of osteoarthritis. This is a chemical found naturally in cartilage located around joints in various areas of the body, and chondroitin supplements (often combined with glucosamine for joint health purposes) that we ingest are derived from animal sources, such as cow cartilage (WebMD).

Clinical studies have found that chondroitin supplements used in tandem with glucosamine are among the best treatments to slow the advancement of osteoporosis, as well as helping to repair/restore cartilage in the body's joints, most often in the treatment of the knees (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health). In particular, chondroitin is known to block enzymes that break down cartilage, as well as helping cartilage retain water and improving the lubrication and overall function of joints.

Outside the realm of joint health and rehabilitation, chondroitin has a wealth of other potential medical uses. Chondroitin sulfate has been used in a variety of research studies and has shown promising results in the treatment of heart disease, osteoporosis, high cholesterol, psoriasis symptoms and eye disorders, as well as being used in conjunction with iron supplements to treat the iron deficiency, anemia.

Why does chrondroitin 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.