Regulators have begun issuing some of the hundreds, if not thousands, of regulations necessary to implement Obamacare. Among them is a new restriction on health reimbursement accounts that exemplifies the lunacy of the entire health care scheme.
Health reimbursement accounts (HRA) provide tax breaks for deposits used to pay medical costs, including basic over-the-counter (OTC) remedies such as pain relievers, antihistamines, and topical antibiotics. But effective Jan. 1, 2011, reimbursements from the accounts will be allowed for over-the-counter medicines only if they are purchased with a prescription.
Yep, deep within the 2,500 or so pages of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—so called—is a miserly reversal on a bit of tax relief afforded consumers for a host of household essentials. Evidently, the new health care regime is so costly that to pay for it all the feds must eliminate a tax incentive intended to make us more prudent health care consumers.
The new regulation is all the more maddening for its pretense. If a prescription is now necessary to receive HRA reimbursement for over-the-counter products, there is no HRA coverage for such purchases. But rather than come out and say so, the regulators attempt to fool us by adding the Orwellian prescription exemption.
We probably shouldn’t be surprised. Despite President Obama’s platitudes about “slowing the growth of health care costs” and “eliminating hundreds of billions of dollars of waste and fraud,” there’s no hiding the fact that his grand plan is a budget-buster. Indeed, expanded entitlements and scores of mandates will deepen the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars.
Sadly, what we are left with is a prescription requirement for products that have undergone tortuous government scrutiny to be declared safe for over-the-counter sale.