Study: Over-the-counter drugs could save billions

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In addition to the economic analysis, CHPA released a survey of primary-care doctors. A vast majority — 88 percent — said they recommend that patients try over-the-counter drugs and other at-home treatments before turning to a professional.

Under the healthcare reform law, patients can only use tax-preferred Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to buy over-the-counter drugs if they have a doctor’s prescription. Critics of the provision say it undermines consumer choice, by limiting the use of HSAs, while also encouraging unnecessary visits to the doctor and thereby increasing healthcare costs.

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Hatch7 key players in the GOP's border tax fight Public lands dispute costs Utah a major trade show Overnight Tech: GOP chairman to propose high-skilled visa overhaul | Zuckerberg's 5,700 word letter | Tech lobbies gear up ahead of internet fight MORE (R-Utah) has sponsored a bill to repeal the limits.

The insurance industry also recently released data on the increasing use of HSAs.