OPM has called attention several new considerations for federal employees who have dependent care and/or health care flexible spending accounts.

In a message to agencies, OPM said that under one of the Coronavirus relief laws, the CARES Act, a prescription is no longer needed for many over the counter drugs and medications that previously required a prescription to be eligible for reimbursement under a health care FSA. In addition, health care FSAs now can be used for feminine health products, it said.


The same applies to reimbursements through health savings accounts or health reimbursement arrangements, which are similar tax-favored accounts under some FEHB plans, it said.

OPM also repeated guidance sent earlier regarding “qualifying life events” that allow changes outside the annual fall open season in dependent care accounts, which most commonly are used for child care but also can be used for day care of dependent parents.

When such an event occurs, account holders may increase their election due through September 30 and may decrease their election throughout the year. “The closing of a child/elder care facility or program, as a result of the call for social distancing, meets one of the program’s qualifying life events: a childcare/elder care provider’s cost or coverage changes,” said the new notice.

It adds: “The request must be consistent with the reason for the change. For example, if the dependent care provider is no longer providing care, the election can be reduced. Similarly, if the participant needs supplemental child or adult care, due to an increase in hours worked, the participant can increase the DCFSA election.”

A listing of eligible health care FSA expenses is at fsafeds.com, which also is the portal for changing elections due to life events.

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