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17 Health Care Costs You May Be Able to Deduct From Your Taxes

You may be surprised to learn about some of the possible health care expenses that you can deduct on your taxes this spring. Learn more about how you may be able to save some money.

As tax season approaches each year, it’s time to gather up your tax documents, crunch the numbers and hope for the best.

For many older Americans, it also means utilizing some key health care-related deductions.

Here is a list of 17 health care expenses that seniors or people with disabilities may be able to deduct from their taxes this year.

Health care tax deductions

Medical expenses are defined by federal tax law as “the costs for diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease, and for treatments affecting any part or function of the body.”1

But the IRS also allows for a number of tax deductions that don’t necessarily fit into any of those categories, and many of these deductions often go overlooked by tax filers.

Some of these potential deductions can include costs related to:

  1. Alternative treatments such as acupuncture.

  2. Equipment such as wheelchairs, bath chairs, bedside commodes and other items used by people with disabilities or certain conditions.

  3. Diabetes-related equipment including blood-testing kits, blood strips and insulin.

  4. Eye and ear care, including eye exams, prescription glasses and sunglasses, contact lenses and contact lens insurance, as well as certain eye surgeries, hearing aids and even Braille books.

  5. Home improvement projects that are designed to accommodate a disability, such as wheelchair ramps or bathroom grab bars, may be covered by some Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans and may also be tax deductible.

    However, only the portion of the cost that is above any increase to the home’s value is tax deductible. For example, if a home improvement project cost $8,000 but only added $5,000 to the home’s value, only $3,000 of the improvement costs be tax deductible.

  6. Up to $50 per night for lodging in a hotel in order to receive necessary out-of-town medical treatment.

  7. The cost of admission and transportation to a medical conference on a chronic condition from which you, a spouse or other dependent suffers.

  8. Medical costs related to organ transplants for both the recipient and donor.

  9. The cost of caretaking for daily tasks like bathing, dressing and eating. Some of these costs can also be covered by certain Medicare Advantage plans.

  10. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment for alcohol, drug and other rehabilitation.

  11. Service animal costs, including their food, training and vet bills.

  12. Smoking-cessation treatments that are prescribed by a doctor.

  13. Special diets that are prescribed by a doctor to treat a medical condition such as celiac disease, obesity or hypertension. However, only the cost that is demonstrably above the cost of regular foods may be deductible.

  14. The cost of special education to address a diagnosed physical, mental or emotional condition.

  15. Transportation costs to receive medical care. This can include the cost of cab, train or bus fare or 18 cents per mile if you use your own car. Some Medicare Advantage plans can also cover non-emergency transportation.

  16. Weight-loss programs for those with a diagnosed medical condition (excluding obesity).

  17. Wigs for cancer patients who lose their hair due to chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

The tax filing season typically ends on Monday, April 15. You can consider talking to a tax professional if you believe any of the deductions above may apply to your filing.

Are Original Medicare premiums tax deductible?

Your Medicare premiums are likely tax-deductible, but if you're currently employed, don't expect them to be taken out pre-tax. Instead, these premiums will need to be deducted when you file your taxes, assuming you file an itemized return.

Are Medicare Advantage premiums tax deductible?

Most healthcare plan premiums are considered tax-deductible, including privately sold Medicare Advantage plans. This is only applicable if your tax return is itemized, however.

In order to be considered tax-deductible, your total medical expenses will need to exceed 7.5% of your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). 

Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan premiums are often considered tax-deductible as well.

Medicare Advantage plans may help you save money on health care costs

A Medicare Advantage plan may help you save money on some of your health care costs.

For example, Medicare Advantage plans are required by law to cover everything that Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) covers, but many Medicare Advantage plans offer other additional benefits that Original Medicare doesn't cover.

Some of these additional benefits can include things like prescription drug coverage, vision and dental coverage, transportation and more.

All Medicare Advantage plans also include an annual out-of-pocket spending limit, which Original Medicare doesn't cover.

Read additional medicare costs guides to learn more about Medicare costs and how they will affect you.

1 https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/213

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Christian

About the author

Christian Worstell is a licensed insurance agent and a Senior Staff Writer for MedicareAdvantage.com. He is passionate about helping people navigate the complexities of Medicare and understand their coverage options.

His work has been featured in outlets such as Vox, MSN, and The Washington Post, and he is a frequent contributor to health care and finance blogs.

Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He currently lives in Raleigh, NC.

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