WOONSOCKET, R.I., June 18 /PRNewswire/ -- According to a recent study(1), more than 6.1 million Americans are currently enrolled in health savings account (HSA)-eligible insurance plans, a 35 percent increase since last year. Consumers are increasingly turning to health savings and flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to cut costs associated with health care. CVS/pharmacy, America's largest retail pharmacy with 6,300 convenient locations nationwide, is making it easier for shoppers enrolled in HSAs and FSAs to save money and track eligible health purchases as part of its ExtraCare rewards program.
As part of a new system rolled-out nationwide in early 2008, CVS/pharmacy checkout counters now provide shoppers with easy-to-read register receipts. The new receipts highlight prescription medicines, over-the-counter (OTC) remedies and other qualifying purchases so they can be easily identified and tracked with a special symbol indicating which items are HSA/FSA-eligible. To make redemption of HSA/FSA funds as easy as possible, CVS/pharmacy register receipts also present separate sub-totals for items that are HSA/FSA-eligible.
HSA/FSA participants save money by setting aside pre-tax dollars for prescription co-pays, OTC medications and other health-related purchases. ExtraCare members who choose CVS/pharmacy for HSA/FSA-eligible purchases save money and time by eliminating the hassle previously associated with validation of HSA/FSA claims. ExtraCare cardholders still receive quarterly Extra Bucks earned for HSA/FSA-eligible transactions, as well as any applicable instant rewards.
"The use of health savings accounts and flexible savings programs has grown dramatically over the past two years," said Rob Price, senior vice president of marketing for CVS/pharmacy. "But many consumers don't realize that managing their funds throughout the year can be simple and, more importantly, can result in significant cost-savings, particularly for those with chronic conditions. CVS/pharmacy remains committed to improving the lives of our customers, and helping them save money on everyday health costs is a major component of that mission."
Easier than ever to use "flex cards" at the register
An increasing number of consumers participating in FSAs rely on FSA debit cards loaded with predetermined limits. Consumers who present these "flex cards" to complete a transaction at CVS/pharmacy will experience the immediate benefit of the FSA sub-total being deducted directly from the shopper's flex card, while the remaining total for non-FSA items will be organized for the shopper to purchase with an alternative method of payment. Some FSA programs or third-party administrators may request proof of an automatically submitted claim by way of receipt, so participants are encouraged to save receipts that contain FSA-eligible purchases made with a flex card.
Organizing and tracking spend throughout the year
Cardholders can call a toll-free number (1-800-SHOP-CVS) to receive a list of HSA/FSA-eligible purchases made with their ExtraCare card. This statement can be used to substantiate FSA-eligible purchases made with an ExtraCare card going back 14 months. Cardholders receive their HSA/FSA-purchase statement by U.S. mail within five business days of making the request (or sooner, if callers request an email version of the statement). CVS/pharmacy provides this service free of charge to ExtraCare cardholders. Cardholders that do not participate in FSAs may still receive a free list of FSA-eligible purchases. These lists help shoppers by supplying enough information to forecast HSA/FSA-eligible spending for future HSA/FSA withholdings or to substantiate tax deductions pertaining to health and medical expenses.
Details: FSAs and HSAs
Health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts are made available by many U.S. employers as part of company health benefits. HSAs and FSAs allow an employee to set aside a portion of his or her pre-tax earnings to pay for health care expenses not covered by health insurance plans. Money deducted from an employee's pay into a HSA/FSA is not subject to payroll taxes, resulting in substantial payroll tax savings. Common costs covered by HSAs and FSAs include prescription drug co-payments and OTC products ranging from cold and flu remedies and allergy treatments to eye care products and blood pressure monitors.
Virtually all FSAs have "use it or lose it" policies which establish annual deadlines for redemption of the available funds; these policies are determined by employers but a majority are arranged to correspond with the calendar year, meaning that all funds not used on or before December 31 are lost to the account holder. Some HSAs are automatically rolled over for future medical expenses but policies may vary.
CVS/pharmacy's ExtraCare program is the largest consumer rewards program, with more than 50 million cardholders. Cardholders receive 2% of most purchases back quarterly, delivered in the form of free "CVS money" called Extra Bucks. Additionally, members receive benefits such as instant targeted offers on register receipts. More than ten million ExtraCare members have enrolled in CVS/pharmacy's email alerts program, which delivers additional coupons and health and beauty information directly to shoppers' email inboxes.
CVS/pharmacy, the retail division of CVS Caremark Corporation (NYSE: CVS), is America's largest retail pharmacy with 6,300 retail locations. CVS/pharmacy is committed to improving the lives of those we serve by making innovative and high-quality health and pharmacy services safe, affordable and easy to access, both in its stores and online at CVS.com. General information about CVS/pharmacy and CVS Caremark is available at http://www.cvs.com/pressroom, as well as http://investor.cvs.com.
(1) 2008 census released by America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), available online at: http://www.ahipresearch.org/pdfs/2008_HSA_Census.pdf.
Contact: Mike DeAngelis of CVS/pharmacy, +1-401-770-2645, MJDeangelis@cvs.com
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved