Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act health account provisions


The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law March 27, 2020, contains important updates on the use of health savings accounts (HSAs), flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health reimbursement accounts (HRAs).  

As a valued Optum Bank account holder with one or more of these health account types, we wanted to inform you of the below changes that expand qualified medical expenses and access to remote care:

Telehealth services

  • High-deductible health plans (HDHPs) with an HSA may* provide pre-deductible coverage for telehealth and other remote care services. This provision will last until December 31, 2021 (plan year must begin prior to this date).

Certain over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and medications as qualified medical expenses

  • The CARES Act restores the ability to use HSAs, FSAs and HRAs to purchase certain OTC drugs and medications, like aspirin and other pain medications, allergy medication, etc., without a doctor’s prescription.
  • For the first time, menstrual care products are considered qualified medical expenses for payment or reimbursement with an HSA, FSA or HRA.
  • Both provisions for OTC and menstrual products apply to amounts paid or expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2020 and are ongoing without an expiration date*. 

Important note for FSAs and HRAs:

You can use your account funds to purchase these products starting today. However, you may attempt to purchase OTC drugs and medications or menstrual care products with your Optum Bank payment Mastercard® and be unable to. This is because individual merchants, like pharmacies and convenience stores, must update their point of sale (POS) system to now recognize these products as qualified medical expenses for FSA and HRA.

Use your payment card as you normally would for these purchases, and if the sale will not process, you can pay out of pocket with the option to reimburse yourself with account funds. As a reminder, keep your itemized receipt or explanations of benefits, which are needed to verify each purchase so you can be reimbursed. To submit a claim for reimbursement, sign in to optumbank.com and select “File a Claim” from the “I want to” section. 


  • Check out these videos for step-by-step instructions:
  • If you would like to submit a manual claim reimbursement, sign in to your account at optumbank.com and select “Help & Tools”, and then “Forms & Documents” to access the Reimbursement Claim form.
  • To search qualified medical expenses, visit FSAstore.com.

For HSAs, you may use your debit card as you normally would since no claim reimbursement process is required. Please retain copies of your receipts as needed for tax purposes.

Click here for the latest developments and regulation changes related to COVID-19 and your health accounts, such as the CARES Act. 


*This communication is subject to your specific plan documents and personal circumstances, and is not intended as legal or tax advice. Health savings accounts (HSAs) are individual accounts offered or administered by Optum Bank®, Member FDIC, and are subject to eligibility requirements and restrictions on deposits and withdrawals to avoid IRS penalties. State taxes may apply. Fees may reduce earnings on account. Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health reimbursement accounts (HRAs) are administered by OptumHealth Financial Services and are subject to eligibility and restrictions. Federal and state laws and regulations are subject to change.