Qualified medical expenses are deductible to the extent that they exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI) for 2018 and 2019. Starting 2020, the deductibility threshold increases to 10% of your AGI. AGI is the bottom number on the first page of your personal income tax return (Form 1040).
What are Medical Expenses?
Medical care expenses include payments for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or payments for treatments affecting any structure or function of the body.
What is Deductible?
Deductible medical expenses may include but aren’t limited to the following:
- Payments of fees to doctors, dentists, surgeons, chiropractors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and nontraditional medical practitioners.
- Payments for in-patient hospital care or residential nursing home care, if the availability of medical care is the principal reason for being in the nursing home, including the cost of meals and lodging charged by the hospital or nursing home. If the availability of medical care isn’t the principal reason for residence in the nursing home, the deduction is limited to that part of the cost that’s for medical care.
- Payments for acupuncture treatments or inpatient treatment at a center for alcohol or drug addiction, for participation in a smoking-cessation program and for drugs to alleviate nicotine withdrawal that require a prescription.
- Payments to participate in a weight-loss program for a specific disease or diseases diagnosed by a physician, including obesity, but not ordinarily payments for diet food items or the payment of health club dues.
- Payments for insulin and payments for drugs that require a prescription.
- Payments made for admission and transportation to a medical conference relating to a chronic disease that you, your spouse, or your dependents have (if the costs are primarily for and essential to necessary medical care). However, you may not deduct the costs for meals and lodging while attending the medical conference.
- Payments for false teeth, artificial limbs, reading or prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses, hearing aids, crutches, wheelchairs, and for a guide dog or other service animal to assist a visually impaired or hearing disabled person, or a person with other physical disabilities.
- Braille books and magazines used by a visually-impaired person.
- Clarinet and lessons to treat the improper alignment of a child’s upper and lower teeth.
- Cosmetic surgery, if it’s necessary to improve a deformity related to a congenital abnormality, accident or disease.
- Elastic hosiery to treat blood circulation problems.
- Extra rent or utilities for a larger apartment required in order to provide space for a nurse/attendant.
- Mattresses and boards purchased specifically to alleviate an arthritic condition.
- Payments for transportation primarily for and essential to medical care that qualify as medical expenses, such as payments of the actual fare for a taxi, bus, train, ambulance, or for transportation by personal car, the amount of your actual out-of-pocket expenses such as for gas and oil, or the amount of the standard mileage rate for medical expenses, plus the cost of tolls and parking.
- Payments for insurance premiums you paid for policies that cover medical care or for a qualified long-term care insurance policy covering qualified long-term care services. However, if you’re an employee, don’t include in medical expenses the portion of your premiums treated as paid by your employer under its sponsored group accident, health policy, or qualified long-term care insurance policy. Also, don’t include the premiums that you paid under your employer-sponsored policy under a premium conversion policy (pre-tax), paid by an employer-sponsored health insurance plan (cafeteria plan) or any other medical and dental expenses unless the premiums are included in box 1 of your Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. For example, if you’re a federal employee participating in the premium conversion program of the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) program, you may not include the premiums paid for the policy as a medical expense.
If you’re self-employed and have a net profit for the year, you may be eligible for the self-employed health insurance deduction. This is an adjustment to income, rather than an itemized deduction, for premiums you paid on a health insurance policy covering medical care, including a qualified long-term care insurance policy covering medical care, for yourself, your spouse, and dependents. In addition, you may be eligible for this deduction for your child who is under the age of 27 at the end of 2017 even if the child wasn’t your dependent.
What is not deductible?
You may not deduct funeral or burial expenses, over-the-counter medicines (i.e., medicines or drugs that aren’t required to be prescribed), toothpaste, toiletries, cosmetics, a trip or program for the general improvement of your health, or most cosmetic surgery. You may not deduct amounts paid for nicotine gum and nicotine patches that don’t require a prescription.