Medical Expenses: What You Can Deduct When Tax Season Comes Around

There are several expenses that you are allowed to write off as deductions

Stethoscope and Pen on Form / Medical Expenses: What You Can Deduct When Tax Season Comes Around
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March 07, 2017

Medical expenses can do serious damage to our bank accounts as well as our bodies. Even when you have insurance, you often have to cover at least part of the cost. Fortunately, many medical expenses are deductible when tax time rolls around—as long as they meet certain criteria.

To claim a deduction for a medical expense, you must have paid it during the calendar year, and you have to have some kind of proof that you paid it during that time. This proof can take the form of any document from a canceled check to a credit card statement or other receipt from your financial institution.

Make sure to keep this paperwork even after you file in case of an audit. If the IRS audits you, you will have to be able to verify every single deduction you claimed. If an expense was covered by your insurance company or another resource, you can't deduct it.

Finally, you're allowed to deduct only the amount that you spent for the year in question. You can't include any expenses from the previous year or any estimate future expenses.

Deductible Medical Expenses

Per the IRS, the following expenses are all deductible. However, this is not a complete list, so if you are not sure if your expense qualifies, check Publication 502 at

  1. Alcoholism Treatment
  2. You can deduct costs associated with inpatient treatment for alcohol addiction at a therapeutic or rehabilitation center, including lodging and meals while you reside there. If membership in the Alcoholics Anonymous program is deemed medically necessary for treating the addiction, you can also deduct transportation costs for attending the meetings.

  3. Birth Control Pills
  4. The cost of birth control pills are deductible as long as a doctor prescribes them.

  5. Breast Pumps and Related Supplies
  6. If you buy a breast pump or any related lactation equipment, you can deduct the expenses.

  7. Capital Expenses
  8. These expenses are the costs of any modifications or installations of special equipment inside your house. The sole purpose of such changes must be to provide necessary medical care for you, a spouse, or a dependent. The costs are partially deductible if the changes increase the value of the property, and if they don't, you can write off the full cost.

  9. Dental Expenses
  10. You can deduct any costs related to preventing or treating dental illness or other maladies, including expenses for a dentist or dental hygienist. These deductions relate to the performance of many services and procedures, such as x-rays, cleanings, fillings, extractions, braces, and others.

  11. Drug Addiction Treatment
  12. Expenses related to treating drug addiction are deductible in the same way that the costs of alcohol treatment are. All inpatient treatment services, meals, and lodging are eligible.

  13. Drugs
  14. Many medications, including insulin, are deductible as long as they're prescribed by a doctor and are deemed medically necessary for treatment. As a result, you are not allowed to deduct the cost of any medicine not prescribed by a medical professional.

  15. Eyes
  16. You may deduct eye exams, eyeglasses, and any surgeries considered medically necessary. If your contact lenses are deemed medically necessary, you can deduct those too. Surgeries for curing poor vision, including radial keratotomy and laser eye surgery, are eligible as well.

  17. Guide Dog/Service Animal
  18. Any cost related to buying, owning, and training a service animal to help a visual- or hearing-impaired person can be deducted. Such costs include veterinary care, food, and grooming, as well as any other expense intended to keep the animal healthy and capable of performing the intended service.

  19. HMO Costs
  20. Any expenses you incur due to a membership in a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) for you or any other member of your immediate family are considered to be medical insurance premiums and therefore can be deducted.

  21. Hospital Services
  22. If you receive care at a hospital or similar care facility, you can deduct the expense as long as medical attention was the primary reason you received such services. You may also deduct meals and lodgings for the same reasons.

  23. Insurance Premiums
  24. Monthly premiums for a health insurance policy are deductible. However, you are not allowed to deduct any medical expenses that were either paid out by your insurer or for which you plan to claim a tax credit.

    There are some taxpayers who have a policy that covers services other than standard medical care. These people can deduct the premiums they pay for the medical care part of that policy, but only if this cost is indicated separately in their agreement with their insurer or other documentation generated by their provider.

  25. Nursing Home Expenses
  26. Expenses for the costs of medical care for you, a spouse, or a dependent that is provided by a nursing home are deductible, though, once again, the primary reason for such services must be medical care. Meals and lodging are also deductible.

  27. Nurse Services
  28. The costs of hiring a nurse to provide services either in the home or a care facility are deductible as long as those services are for the medical benefit and care of the individual in question. Such costs include wages and any other expenses related to the patient's medical care and well-being. If the nurse performs any other services in the home, you do have to divide the amount you deduct between the time he or she performs medical duties and the time spent on other tasks.

  29. Physical Exams
  30. You are allowed to deduct any costs spent on your annual check-up, physical exam, or diagnostic tests by a medical professional. You do not have to be sick at the time of the exam for the expenses to be eligible.

  31. Psychiatric Services
  32. If you pay for any psychiatric care services for the mental health of yourself, a spouse, or a dependent, you can deduct them, including services provided in medical facilities. You can also deduct any costs you incur for transportation to such a facility for these services.

  33. Psychoanalysis Services
  34. You may deduct medical expenses for these services as long as you receive them. Costs related to training to become a psychoanalysis cannot be deducted as medical expenses.

  35. Special Education Costs
  36. Any expenses related to providing educational services for a child who has learning or other mental and/or physical disabilities may be deducted. A medical professional must have recommended such services for them to be eligible.

    These costs can include payments for a specially-trained tutor or teacher as well as tuition, and meals and lodging costs associated with attended a learning institution are also eligible.

  37. Smoking Prevention
  38. The costs of any program, as well as certain medications, designed to help you stop smoking are tax-deductible. Nicotine gum and patches are not included; only medications prescribed by a doctor are eligible.

  39. Telephone and TV Equipment
  40. If you are hearing-impaired or have a speech disability, you can deduct expenses for a special telephone or TV equipment, including the cost of a teletypewriter or telecommunications device necessary for communicating by phone.

    You can also deduct any adapter or special TV that provides closed captioning or any other subtitle program for the hard of hearing. Repairs needed for the maintenance of such equipment can also be deducted.

  41. Transplants
  42. Medical expenses resulting from donating or possibly donating an organ and the associated transportation costs involved are deductible. Such expenses paid for another person donating or planning to donate can also be deducted.

  43. Transportation Costs
  44. Any cost related to transportation for necessary medical care is deductible, including the costs of tickets for a bus, taxi, train, or airplane.

    These costs also include ambulance expenses paid by a parent whose child is sick and needs necessary medical care as well as the transportation costs for any medical professional able to administer medications, injections, and other medical services.

    If you accompany a patient who can't travel without an escort, you can write off the transportation cost. If you are visiting with a mentally-ill dependent, you can write off the transportation cost if a doctor has recommended such visits.

    If you're driving, you can deduct the costs of gas, oil, parking, and toll fees, but not insurance, depreciation, or maintenance.

  45. Weight Loss
  46. Expenses paid for weight loss programs can be deducted as long as the treatments are for a disease diagnosed by a medical professional. Such conditions include obesity, heart disease, hypertension, and any other maladies related to weight gain.

    You can't deduct membership dues for a gym, spa, or similar health club. You can deduct the costs of special foods offered by a weight loss program if the food is intended to treat an illness, provides nutrition not offered by other foods, and is recommended by your doctor.

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