What Medical Expenses Are Deductible?

Following is a list of items that you can include in figuring your medical expense deduction. The items are listed in alphabetical order.

Source: http://www.irs.gov/prod/forms_pubs/pubs/p50205.htm

Abortion

You can include in medical expenses the amount you pay for a legal abortion.

Acupuncture

You can include in medical expenses the amount you pay for acupuncture.

Alcoholism

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for an inpatient's treatment at a therapeutic center for alcohol addiction. This includes meals and lodging provided by the center during treatment.

You can also include in medical expenses transportation costs you pay to attend meetings of an Alcoholics Anonymous Club in your community if your attendance is pursuant to medical advice that membership in the Alcoholics Anonymous Club is necessary for the treatment of a disease involving the excessive use of alcoholic liquors.

Ambulance

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for ambulance service.

Artificial Limb

You can include in medical expenses the amount you pay for an artificial limb.

Artificial Teeth

You can include in medical expenses the amount you pay for artificial teeth.

Autoette

See Wheelchair, later.

Birth Control Pills

You can include in medical expenses the amount you pay for birth control pills prescribed by a doctor.

Braille Books and Magazines

You can include in medical expenses the part of the cost of Braille books and magazines for use by a visually-impaired person that is more than the cost of regular printed editions.

Capital Expenses

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for special equipment installed in your home, or for improvements, if their main purpose is medical care for you, your spouse, or a dependent. The cost of permanent improvements that increase the value of the property may be partly included as a medical expense. The cost of the improvement is reduced by the increase in the value of the property. The difference is a medical expense. If the value of the property is not increased by the improvement, the entire cost is included as a medical expense.

Certain improvements made to accommodate your home to your disabled condition, or that of your spouse or your dependents who live with you, do not usually increase the value of the home and the cost can be included in full as medical expenses. These improvements include, but are not limited to, the following items.

Only reasonable costs to accommodate a home to a disabled condition are considered medical care. Additional costs for personal motives, such as for architectural or aesthetic reasons, are not medical expenses.

Capital expense work chart. Use the following chart to figure the amount of your capital expense to include in your medical expenses.

1.

Enter amount you paid for the improvement.

$

2.

Enter increase in value of your home. If line 2 is equal to or more than line 1, you have no deduction. Stop here. If not, go on to line 3.

3.

Subtract line 2 from line 1. This is your medical expense.

$

Example. You have a heart ailment. On your doctor's advice, you install an elevator in your home so that you will not have to climb stairs. The elevator costs $8,000. An appraisal shows that the elevator increases the value of your home by $4,400. You figure your medical expense like this:

1.

Enter amount you paid for the improvement.

$8,000

2.

Enter increase in value of your home. If line 2 is equal to or more than line 1, you have no deduction. Stop here. If not, go on to line 3.

4,400

3.

Subtract line 2 from line 1. This is your medical expense.

$3,600

Operation and upkeep. Amounts you pay for operation and upkeep of a capital asset qualify as medical expenses, as long as the main reason for them is medical care. This is so even if none or only part of the original cost of the capital asset qualified as a medical care expense.

Example. If, in the previous example, the elevator increased the value of your home by $8,000, you would have no medical expense for the cost of the elevator. However, the cost of electricity to operate the elevator and any costs to maintain it are medical expenses as long as the medical reason for the elevator exists.

Improvements to property rented by a person with a disability. Amounts paid by a person with a disability to buy and install special plumbing fixtures, mainly for medical reasons, in a rented house are medical expenses.

Example. John has arthritis and a heart condition. He cannot climb stairs or get into a bathtub. On his doctor's advice, he installs a bathroom with a shower stall on the first floor of his two-story rented house. The landlord did not pay any of the cost of buying and installing the special plumbing and did not lower the rent. John can include in medical expenses the entire amount he paid.

Car

You can include in medical expenses the cost of special hand controls and other special equipment installed in a car for the use of a person with a disability.

Special design. You can include in medical expenses the difference in the cost of a car specially designed to hold a wheelchair and a regular car.

Cost of operation. You cannot deduct the cost of operating a specially equipped car, except as discussed under Transportation, later.

Chiropractor

You can include in medical expenses fees you pay to a chiropractor for medical care.

Christian Science Practitioner

You can include in medical expenses fees you pay to Christian Science practitioners for medical care.

Contact Lenses

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for contact lenses needed for medical reasons. You can also include the cost of equipment and materials required for using contact lenses, such as saline solution and enzyme cleaner. See also Eyeglasses and Laser Eye Surgery, later.

Crutches

You can include in medical expenses the amount you pay to buy or rent crutches.

Dental Treatment

You can include in medical expenses the amounts you pay for dental treatment. This includes fees paid to dentists for X-rays, fillings, braces, extractions, dentures, etc.

Drug Addiction

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for an inpatient's treatment at a therapeutic center for drug addiction. This includes meals and lodging at the center during treatment.

Drugs

See Medicines, later.

Eyeglasses

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for eyeglasses and contact lenses needed for medical reasons. You can also include fees paid for eye examinations.

Fertility Enhancement

You can include in medical expenses the cost of the following procedures to overcome your inability to have children.

Founder's Fee

See Lifetime Care--Advance Payments, later.

Guide Dog or Other Animal

You can include in medical expenses the cost of a guide dog or other animal to be used by a visually-impaired or hearing-impaired person. You can also include the cost of a dog or other animal trained to assist persons with other physical disabilities. Amounts you pay for the care of these specially trained animals are also medical expenses.

Health Institute

You can include in medical expenses fees you pay for treatment at a health institute only if the treatment is prescribed by a physician and the physician issues a statement that the treatment is necessary to alleviate a physical or mental defect or illness of the individual receiving the treatment.

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay to entitle you, or your spouse (if filing a joint return), or a dependent to receive medical care from a health maintenance organization. These amounts are treated as medical insurance premiums. See Insurance Premiums, later.

Hearing Aids

You can include in medical expenses the cost of a hearing aid and the batteries you buy to operate it.

Home Care

See Nursing Services, later.

Hospital Services

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for the cost of inpatient care at a hospital or similar institution if the main reason for being there is to receive medical care. This includes amounts paid for meals and lodging. Also see Lodging, later.

Insurance Premiums

You can include in medical expenses insurance premiums you pay for policies that cover medical care. Policies can provide payment for:

You cannot deduct insurance premiums paid with pretax dollars because the premiums are not included in box 1 of your Form W-2.

If you have a policy that provides more than one kind of payment, you can include the premiums for the medical care part of the policy if the charge for the medical part is reasonable. The cost of the medical part must be separately stated in the insurance contract or given to you in a separate statement.

Employer-sponsored health insurance plan. Do not include in your medical and dental expenses on Schedule A (Form 1040) any insurance premiums paid by an employer-sponsored health insurance plan unless the premiums are included in box 1 of your Form W-2. Also, do not include on Schedule A (Form 1040) any other medical and dental expenses paid by the plan unless the amount paid is included in box 1 of your Form W-2.

Flexible spending arrangement. Contributions made by your employer to provide coverage for qualified long-term care services under a flexible spending or similar arrangement must be included in your income. This amount will be reported as wages in box 1 of your Form W-2.

Medicare A. If you are covered under social security (or if you are a government employee who paid Medicare tax), you are enrolled in Medicare A. The payroll tax paid for Medicare A is not a medical expense. If you are not covered under social security (or were not a government employee who paid Medicare tax), you can voluntarily enroll in Medicare A. In this situation the premiums paid for Medicare A can be included as a medical expense on your tax return.

Medicare B. Medicare B is a supplemental medical insurance. Premiums you pay for Medicare B are a medical expense. If you applied for it at age 65 or after you became disabled, you can deduct the monthly premiums you paid. If you were over age 65 or disabled when you first enrolled, check the information you received from the Social Security Administration to find out your premium.

Prepaid insurance premiums. Premiums you pay before you are age 65 for insurance for medical care for yourself, your spouse, or your dependents after you reach age 65 are medical care expenses in the year paid if they are:

  1. Payable in equal yearly installments, or more often, and
  2. Payable for at least 10 years, or until you reach age 65 (but not for less than 5 years).

Unused sick leave used to pay premiums. You must include in gross income cash payments you receive at the time of retirement for unused sick leave. You must also include in gross income the value of unused sick leave that, at your option, your employer applies to the cost of your continuing participation in your employer's health plan after you retire. You can include this cost of continuing participation in the health plan as a medical expense.

If you participate in a health plan where your employer automatically applies the value of unused sick leave to the cost of your continuing participation in the health plan (and you do not have the option to receive cash), you do not include the value of the unused sick leave in gross income. You cannot include this cost of continuing participation in that health plan as a medical expense.

You cannot include premiums you pay for:

Health insurance costs for self-employed persons. If you were self-employed and had a net profit for the year, were a general partner (or a limited partner receiving guaranteed payments), or received wages from an S corporation in which you were a more than 2% shareholder (who is treated as a partner), you may be able to deduct, as an adjustment to income, up to 60% of the amount paid for health insurance on behalf of yourself, your spouse, and dependents. You take this deduction on Form 1040. If you itemize your deductions, include the remaining premiums with all other medical care expenses on Schedule A (Form 1040), subject to the 7.5% limit.

You may not take the deduction for any month in which you were eligible to participate in any subsidized health plan maintained by your employer or your spouse's employer.

If you qualify to take the deduction, use the Self-Employed Health Insurance Deduction Worksheet in the Form 1040 instructions to figure the amount you can deduct. But, if any of the following applies, do not use the worksheet.

If you cannot use the worksheet in the Form 1040 instructions, use the worksheet in Publication 535, Business Expenses, to figure your deduction.

Laboratory Fees

You can include in medical expenses the amounts you pay for laboratory fees that are part of your medical care.

Laser Eye Surgery

You can include in medical expenses the amount you pay for surgery to improve vision, such as radial keratotomy or other laser eye surgery, if it is done primarily to promote the correct function of the eye.

Lead-Based Paint Removal

You can include in medical expenses the cost of removing lead-based paints from surfaces in your home to prevent a child who has or has had lead poisoning from eating the paint. These surfaces must be in poor repair (peeling or cracking) or within the child's reach. The cost of repainting the scraped area is not a medical expense.

If, instead of removing the paint, you cover the area with wallboard or paneling, treat these items as capital expenses. See Capital Expenses, earlier. Do not include the cost of painting the wallboard as a medical expense.

Learning Disability

You can include in medical expenses tuition fees you pay to a special school for a child who has severe learning disabilities caused by mental or physical impairments, including nervous system disorders. Your doctor must recommend that the child attend the school. See Schools and Education, Special, later.

You can also include tutoring fees you pay on your doctor's recommendation for the child's tutoring by a teacher who is specially trained and qualified to work with children who have severe learning disabilities.

Legal Fees

You can include in medical expenses legal fees you paid that are necessary to authorize treatment for mental illness. However, you cannot include in medical expenses fees for the management of a guardianship estate, fees for conducting the affairs of the person being treated, or other fees that are not necessary for medical care.

Lifetime Care--Advance Payments

You can include in medical expenses a part of a life-care fee or "founder's fee" you pay either monthly or as a lump sum under an agreement with a retirement home. The part of the payment you include is the amount properly allocable to medical care. The agreement must require that you pay a specific fee as a condition for the home's promise to provide lifetime care that includes medical care.

Dependents with disabilities. You can include in medical expenses advance payments to a private institution for lifetime care, treatment, and training of your physically or mentally impaired child upon your death or when you become unable to provide care. The payments must be a condition for the institution's future acceptance of your child and must not be refundable.

Payments for future medical care. Generally, you are not allowed to include in medical expenses current payments for medical care (including medical insurance) to be provided substantially beyond the end of the year. This rule does not apply in situations where the future care is purchased in connection with obtaining lifetime care of the type described earlier.

Lodging

You can include in medical expenses the cost of meals and lodging at a hospital or similar institution if your main reason for being there is to receive medical care. See Nursing Home, later.

You may be able to include in medical expenses the cost of lodging not provided in a hospital or similar institution. You can include the cost of such lodging while away from home if you meet all of the following requirements.

  1. The lodging is primarily for and essential to medical care.
  2. The medical care is provided by a doctor in a licensed hospital or in a medical care facility related to, or the equivalent of, a licensed hospital.
  3. The lodging is not lavish or extravagant under the circumstances.
  4. There is no significant element of personal pleasure, recreation, or vacation in the travel away from home.

The amount you include in medical expenses for lodging cannot be more than $50 for each night for each person. Lodging is included for a person for whom transportation expenses are a medical expense because that person is traveling with the person receiving the medical care. For example, if a parent is traveling with a sick child, up to $100 per night can be included as a medical expense for lodging. Meals are not included.

Do not include the cost of your lodging while you are away from home for medical treatment if you do not receive that treatment from a doctor in a licensed hospital or in a medical care facility related to, or the equivalent of, a licensed hospital or if that lodging is not primarily for or essential to the medical care you are receiving.

Long-Term Care Contracts, Qualified

A qualified long-term care insurance is an insurance contract that provides only coverage of qualified long-term care services. The contract must:

  1. Be guaranteed renewable,
  2. Not provide for a cash surrender value or other money that can be paid, assigned, pledged, or borrowed,
  3. Provide that refunds, other than refunds on the death of the insured or complete surrender or cancellation of the contract, and dividends under the contract must be used only to reduce future premiums or increase future benefits, and
  4. Generally not pay or reimburse expenses incurred for services or items that would be reimbursed under Medicare, except where Medicare is a secondary payer, or the contract makes per diem or other periodic payments without regard to expenses.

Qualified Long-Term Care Services

Qualified long-term care services are:

  1. Necessary diagnostic, preventative, therapeutic, curing, treating, mitigating, rehabilitative services, and maintenance and personal care services, and
  2. Required by a chronically ill individual and provided pursuant to a plan of care prescribed by a licensed health care practitioner.

Chronically ill individual. You are chronically ill if you have been certified by a licensed health care practitioner within the previous 12 months as one of the following:

  1. You are unable for at least 90 days, to perform at least two activities of daily living without substantial assistance from another individual, due to loss of functional capacity. Activities of daily living are eating, toileting, transferring, bathing, dressing, and continence, or
  2. You require substantial supervision to be protected from threats to health and safety due to severe cognitive impairment.

Periodic Payments Not Taxed

You can generally exclude from gross income benefits you receive under a per diem type qualified long-term care insurance contract, subject to a limit of $190 a day ($69,540 a year) for 2000. The $190 is indexed for inflation.

Itemized deductions. If you itemize deductions, you can include the following as medical expenses on Schedule A (Form 1040).

  1. Unreimbursed expenses for qualified long-term care services.
  2. Qualified long-term care premiums up to the amounts shown below.
    1. Age 40 or under - $220.
    2. Age 41 to 50 - $410.
    3. Age 51 to 60 - $820.
    4. Age 61 to 70 - $2,200.
    5. Age 71 or over - $2,750.

The limit on premiums is for each person.

Meals

You can include in medical expenses the cost of meals at a hospital or similar institution if the main purpose for being there is to get medical care.

You cannot include in medical expenses the cost of meals that are not part of inpatient care.

Medical Conferences

You can include in medical expenses amounts paid for admission and transportation to a medical conference if the medical conference concerns the chronic illness of you, your spouse, or your dependent. The costs of the medical conference must be primarily for and necessary to the medical care of you, your spouse, or your dependent. You must spend the majority of your time at the conference attending sessions on medical information.

The cost of meals and lodging while attending the conference is not deductible as a medical expense.

Medical Information Plan

You can include in medical expenses amounts paid to a plan that keeps your medical information so that it can be retrieved from a computer data bank for your medical care.

Medical Services

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for legal medical services provided by:

Medicines

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for prescribed medicines and drugs. A prescribed drug is one that requires a prescription by a doctor for its use by an individual. You can also include amounts you pay for insulin. Except for insulin, you cannot include in medical expenses amounts you pay for a drug that is not prescribed.

Controlled substances. You cannot include in medical expenses amounts you pay for controlled substances (such as marijuana, laetrile, etc.), in violation of federal law.

Mentally Retarded, Special Home for

You can include in medical expenses the cost of keeping a mentally retarded person in a special home, not the home of a relative, on the recommendation of a psychiatrist to help the person adjust from life in a mental hospital to community living.

Nursing Home

You can include in medical expenses the cost of medical care in a nursing home or home for the aged for yourself, your spouse, or your dependents. This includes the cost of meals and lodging in the home if the main reason for being there is to get medical care.

Do not include the cost of meals and lodging if the reason for being in the home is personal. You can, however, include in medical expenses the part of the cost that is for medical or nursing care.

Nursing Services

You can include in medical expenses wages and other amounts you pay for nursing services. Services need not be performed by a nurse as long as the services are of a kind generally performed by a nurse. This includes services connected with caring for the patient's condition, such as giving medication or changing dressings, as well as bathing and grooming the patient. These services can be provided in your home or another care facility.

Generally, only the amount spent for nursing services is a medical expense. If the attendant also provides personal and household services, these amounts must be divided between the time spent performing household and personal services and the time spent for nursing services. However, certain maintenance or personal care services provided for qualified long-term care can be included in medical expenses. See Long-Term Care Contracts, Qualified, earlier. Additionally, certain expenses for household services or for the care of a qualifying individual incurred to allow you to work may qualify for the child and dependent care credit. See Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.

You can also include in medical expenses part of the amount you pay for that attendant's meals. Divide the food expense among the household members to find the cost of the attendant's food. Then apportion that cost in the same manner, as in the preceding paragraph. If you had to pay additional amounts for household upkeep because of the attendant, you can include the extra amounts with your medical expenses. This includes extra rent or utilities you pay because you moved to a larger apartment to provide space for the attendant.

Employment taxes. You can include as a medical expense social security tax, FUTA, Medicare tax, and state employment taxes you pay for a nurse, attendant, or other person who provides medical care. For information on employment tax responsibilities of household employers, see Publication 926, Household Employer's Tax Guide.

Healthy baby. You cannot include the cost of nursing services for a normal, healthy baby. But you may be able to take a credit for child care expenses. See Publication 503 for more information. You also may be able to take the child tax credit. See the instructions in your tax package.

Operations

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for legal operations that are not for unnecessary cosmetic surgery. See Cosmetic Surgery under What Expenses Are Not Deductible, later.

Optometrist

See Eyeglasses, earlier.

Organ Donors

See Transplants, later.

Osteopath

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay to an osteopath for medical care.

Oxygen

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for oxygen and oxygen equipment to relieve breathing problems caused by a medical condition.

Prosthesis

See Artificial Limb, earlier.

Psychiatric Care

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for psychiatric care. This includes the cost of supporting a mentally ill dependent at a specially equipped medical center where the dependent receives medical care. See Psychoanalysis, next, and Transportation, later.

Psychoanalysis

You can include in medical expenses payments for psychoanalysis. However, you cannot include payments for psychoanalysis that you must get as a part of your training to be a psychoanalyst.

Psychologist

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay to a psychologist for medical care.

Schools and Education, Special

You can include in medical expenses payments to a special school for a mentally impaired or physically disabled person if the main reason for using the school is its resources for relieving the disability. You can include, for example, the cost of:

The cost of meals, lodging, and ordinary education supplied by a special school can be included in medical expenses only if the main reason for the child's being there is the resources the school has for relieving the mental or physical disability.

You cannot include in medical expenses the cost of sending a problem child to a special school for benefits the child may get from the course of study and the disciplinary methods.

Sterilization

You can include in medical expenses the cost of a legal sterilization (a legally performed operation to make a person unable to have children).

Stop-Smoking Programs

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for a program to stop smoking. If you paid for a stop-smoking program in 1997 or 1998, you may be able to file an amended return on Form 1040X to include in medical expenses the amounts you paid for that stop-smoking program. However, you cannot include in medical expenses amounts you pay for drugs that do not require a prescription, such as nicotine gum or patches, that are designed to help stop smoking.

Surgery

See Operations, earlier.

Telephone

You can include in medical expenses the cost and repair of special telephone equipment that lets a hearing-impaired person communicate over a regular telephone.

Television

You can include in medical expenses the cost of equipment that displays the audio part of television programs as subtitles for hearing-impaired persons. This may be the cost of an adapter that attaches to a regular set. It also may be the cost of a specially equipped television that exceeds the cost of the same model regular television set.

Therapy

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for therapy you receive as medical treatment.

"Patterning" exercises. You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay to an individual for giving "patterning" exercises to a mentally retarded child. These exercises consist mainly of coordinated physical manipulation of the child's arms and legs to imitate crawling and other normal movements.

Transplants

You can include in medical expenses payments you make for surgical, hospital, laboratory, and transportation expenses for a donor or a possible donor of a kidney or other organ. You cannot include expenses if you did not pay for them.

A donor or possible donor can include surgical, hospital, laboratory, and transportation expenses in medical expenses only if he or she pays for them.

Transportation

You can include in medical expenses amounts paid for transportation primarily for, and essential to, medical care.

You can include:

You cannot include:

Car expenses. You can include out-of-pocket expenses for your car, such as gas and oil, when you use your car for medical reasons. You cannot include depreciation, insurance, general repair, or maintenance expenses.

If you do not want to use your actual expenses, you can use a standard rate of 10 cents a mile for use of your car for medical reasons.

You can also include the cost of parking fees and tolls. You can add these fees and tolls to your medical expenses whether you use actual expenses or use the standard mileage rate.

Example. Bill Jones drove 2,800 miles for medical reasons during the year. He spent $200 for gas, $5 for oil, and $50 for tolls and parking. He wants to figure the amount he can include in medical expenses both ways to see which gives him the greater deduction.

He figures the actual expenses first. He adds the $200 for gas, the $5 for oil, and the $50 for tolls and parking for a total of $255.

He then figures the standard mileage amount. He multiplies the 2,800 miles by 10 cents a mile for a total of $280. He then adds the $50 tolls and parking for a total of $330.

Bill includes the $330 of car expenses with his other medical expenses for the year because the $330 is more than the $255 he figured using actual expenses.

Trips

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for transportation to another city if the trip is primarily for, and essential to, receiving medical services. You may be able to include up to $50 per night for lodging. See Lodging, earlier.

You cannot include in medical expenses a trip or vacation taken merely for a change in environment, improvement of morale, or general improvement of health, even if you make the trip on the advice of a doctor.

Tuition

You can include in medical expenses charges for medical care included in the tuition of a college or private school, if the charges are separately stated in the bill or given to you by the school. See Learning Disability, earlier, and Schools and Education, Special, earlier.

Vasectomy

You can include in medical expenses the amount you pay for a vasectomy.

Weight-Loss Program

You can include in medical expenses the cost of a weight-loss program undertaken at a physician's direction to treat an existing disease (such as heart disease). But you cannot include the cost of a weight-loss program if the purpose of the weight control is to maintain your general good health.

Wheelchair

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for an autoette or a wheelchair used mainly for the relief of sickness or disability, and not just to provide transportation to and from work. The cost of operating and keeping up the autoette or wheelchair is also a medical expense.

X-ray Fees

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for X-rays that you get for medical reasons.