Pharmacies busy filling last-minute prescriptions

By Ben Garbarek - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - If you have a flexible spending account for your medical needs, do you know how much is left in it? You better check because that money expires at the end of the year, this coming Friday. That news has people scrambling to use the pre-tax dollars before they vanish.

Another factor contributing to all the activity, is the fact that over-the-counter drugs won't be an eligible expense without a prescription come January 1st.

It was relatively quiet at Westwood Pharmacy in Richmond this afternoon, but pharmacist Melanie Murdaugh says that hasn't been the case lately.

"We have a lot of people trying to use up the rest of their flex spending," she said. "People are coming in wanting, say to call the doctor to get an override to get a prescription and use up that extra money they have."

Westwood usually fills about 250 prescriptions on a typical weekday. Last week that number doubled to 500. Whatever money you have left in your flex account will be gone by New Year's Day. People like Patti Moore don't want that money to go to waste.

"I'll lose the money that I put in every month out of my paycheck," she said. "If you don't use it, you lose it."

Starting next year you won't be able to use your flexible spending account for items like over the counter drugs so a lot of people are trying to buy those while they still can.

$85 is left in the average spending account at the end of the year.

Pharmacists at Westwood say people rush to spend their flex money the last week of ever year. Now they're bracing for a busier week ahead as 2010 comes to an end.

"Later in the week," Murdaugh said. "Especially when people start realizing, hey the end of the year is coming, I might want to use this up, we're probably going to see some more business coming in."

Right now there's no limit to the amount of money you put in your flex account, but there will be a $2500 limit starting in 2013.

Some plans allow you to submit receipts for medical expenses until March 15th, so you might have time left to schedule that dreaded trip to the dentist.

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