What medical expenses are tax deductible?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Qualifying medical expenses are tax deductible only if they exceed 7.5% of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI) in 2017 and 2018 and are not compensated for by insurance or otherwise. In the 2019 tax year, the 7.5% threshold jumps to 10% of income.  According to the IRS, the following are examples of some eligible tax deductible expenses:

  • Fees paid to doctors, dentists, surgeons, chiropractors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and occupational therapists, osteopathic doctors, physical therapists, podiatrists, and psychoanalysts.
  • Payments for hospital services, qualified long-term care services, nursing services, and laboratory fees including the incidental cost of meals and lodging charged by a hospital or similar institution if your principal reason for being there is to receive medical care.
  • Payments for acupuncture treatments or inpatient treatment at a center for alcohol or drug addiction are also tax deductible medical expenses. You may include amounts you paid for participating in a smoking cessation program and for drugs prescribed to alleviate nicotine withdrawal.
  • Premiums for long-term care insurance.
  • The cost of participating in a weight loss program for a specific disease or diseases, including obesity, diagnosed by a physician. In general, you may not deduct the cost of purchasing diet food items or the cost of health club dues.
  • Diagnostic tests, such as a full-body scan, pregnancy test, or blood sugar test kit.
  • The supplemental part of Medicare insurance (Medicare B).
  • The premiums you pay for Medicare Part D insurance.
  • The cost of drugs is tax deductible only for drugs that require a prescription, except for insulin.
  • Admission and transportation to a medical conference relating to the chronic disease of yourself, your spouse, or your dependent (if the costs are primarily for and essential to the medical care). However, you may not deduct the costs for meals and lodging while attending the medical conference.
  • The cost of items such as prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses, false teeth, hearing aids, crutches, wheelchairs, and guide dogs for the blind or deaf.
  • Transportation costs primarily for and essential to medical care that qualify as medical expenses. The actual fare for a taxi, bus, train, or ambulance can be deducted. If you use your car for medical transportation, you can deduct actual out of pocket expenses such as gas and oil, or you can deduct the standard mileage rate for medical expenses. With either method you may include tolls and parking fees.

The government does not allow funeral and burial costs to be deducted from taxes. They also do not allow tax deductions for over-the-counter drugs, toiletries such as toothpaste and cosmetics. Finally, most medical expenses from cosmetic surgeries are not considered tax deductible.  

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