Washington, D.C.—Industry associations are applauding the introduction of the Dietary Supplements Access Act. The bipartisan legislation was introduced in the U.S. House by Reps. Darin LaHood (R-IL), Brendan Boyle (D-PA), John Curtis (R-UT), and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ). The legislation would expand health savings accounts (HSA), health reimbursement arrangements (HRA), and flexible spending accounts (FSA) to cover dietary supplements. This, industry groups say, gives millions of Americans increased health and wellness options for better self-care.

A joint press release issued by the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), Natural Products Association (NPA) and the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA) reported that current law does not routinely allow dietary supplements to be recognized as qualified medical expenses. Consumers, however, want to see that change. Results of a 2023 HSA & FSA Reimbursement Study confirming that 78% of Americans who currently have an FSA or HSA want the flexibility to choose how best to use their pre-tax dollars to stay healthy by using these accounts to purchase dietary supplements. 

Background: Majority of Americans Want the Flexibility to Use Pre-Tax Dollars to Purchase Nutritional Supplements

Congress is "serious about giving more Americans choice"

“Ensuring that Americans are able to utilize their HSAs and FSAs as a tool to make personal healthcare choices for their families remains one of my priorities”, said Rep. LaHood, in the release. “As enrollment in HSAs continues to grow, our bill would remove unnecessary barriers to better meet the needs of consumers. This bipartisan approach would allow over-the-counter nutrition and dietary supplements to be considered as qualified medical expenses under HSAs and FSAs so that a patient can choose to utilize their health savings dollars to access these dietary supplements.”

Rep. Boyle commented, "More than 22 million Americans have chosen to enroll in a health savings account coupled with a consumer-direct health plan. Given this substantial demand, action should be taken to better meet consumer needs. Since HSAs, FSAs, and HRAs, require a prescription for the reimbursement of vitamins it makes sense to remove barriers to supplementing nutrient-deficient diets. This legislation will serve to remove many impediments to self-care, with the goal of creating a sensible path toward better health for all."

Rep. Curtis added, “This bill also sends a clear message to consumers that Congress is serious about giving more Americans choice in how they take care of their health care needs, as well as the importance of proactive care. What works for one person may not work for another, and too often one-size-fits-all policymaking leads to higher costs for consumers and their families.”

Impact on health and wellness

Spotlighting the significant impact this can have on public health, NPA pointed to data showing 95% of adults and 98% of teens have an inadequate vitamin D intake and 61% of adults and 90% of teens do not get enough magnesium. Greater access could make the positive difference.

(Related: Call to Action: Organic & Natural Health Urges Congress to Add Vitamin D to Farm Bill)

Industry groups react to "major step"

Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., President and CEO, NPA: “Expanding fair access to good nutrition would be a major step in keeping more Americans healthy, leading to better outcomes and lower costs versus disease treatment and management. Our public health policy needs to shift more towards prevention, especially as health care costs continue to soar.

"NPA has led the effort to unify industry support for the Boyle-LaHood legislation. In 2022, NPA’s board of directors asked AHPA, CRN, CHPA, and UNPA to join the effort while establishing grassroots campaigns that generated thousands of communications to Capitol Hill. As we build momentum and additional support for this proposal, we will work closely with congressional leadership to strengthen the legislation. We are grateful for Reps. LaHood, Boyle, Curtis, and Gottheimer for being champions of better nutrition for our nation and for those of us who represent the millions of Americans who enjoy, sell, distribute, and manufacture these important products.”

CHPA President & CEO Scott Melville: “Americans overwhelmingly want increased flexibility to take charge of their own health, and this legislation would deliver the type of reforms today’s proactive consumers are asking for and deserve. By allowing dietary supplements to be added to the list of qualified medical expenses, this bill builds on previous legislative efforts, including a bipartisan victory in 2020, that expanded FSA and HSA eligibility to include over-the-counter medicines and feminine hygiene products. CHPA applauds Representatives LaHood, Boyle, Curtis, and Gottheimer for spearheading this effort, which will further empower millions of consumers to best determine how to use their pre-tax dollars to stay healthy and practice responsible self-care.”

AHPA President Michael McGuffin: “Putting consumers in charge of their health choices and allowing them to make informed decisions about their healthcare—as this legislation would do—makes good policy sense. Treating purchases of dietary supplements as eligible expenditures under HSAs and FSAs would incentivize healthy behaviors and consumer choice. Reps. LaHood, Boyle, Curtis, and Gottheimer recognize the contributions of these products to maintaining and improving the health and wellness of Americans. AHPA is grateful for their leadership on this issue and wholeheartedly supports this important measure.”

CRN President and CEO Steve Mister: “CRN welcomes the introduction of this legislation. Dietary supplements play critical roles to fill nutrient gaps and promote overall health and wellness. They not only can reduce risks associated with chronic conditions but can also lead to billions in savings for America’s health care system, as evidenced by the CRN Foundation’s recent health care cost savings study, Supplements to Savings. We look forward to working with the bill sponsors to advance this much-needed policy, so that consumers can finally use their HSAs and FSAs to purchase vitamins, minerals, and other supplements like probiotics, herbals, and omega 3s.”

UNPA President Loren Israelsen: “UNPA commends the sponsors of this common-sense, bipartisan legislation for recognizing the important role that dietary supplements have in helping Americans lead healthier lives. Taxpayers deserve the choice to control their own spending, and this long overdue bill will provide greater incentives for adopting and maintaining healthy lifestyles. UNPA will be working hard for its passage.”

Grassroots action needed

NPA  initiated its grassroots campaign and is urging all health and wellness advocates to write their members of Congress asking that they support legislation expanding access to dietary supplements through HSAs, FSAs, and HRAs. Access the grassroots action center here. NPA encourages: "Giving people more ways to save money in their preventative health care costs is a commonsense solution that can reduce costs for patients and taxpayers. Too much of our focus in this country is on disease treatment rather than prevention. This simple change in our regulations promotes the proactive, preventive approach that we need to support if we wish to improve Americans’ health and healthcare costs."