What are Tax Deductible Medical Expenses?

Tax Deductions and Credits

When you begin your tax paperwork organization ritual, no doubt one of the top priorities on your list will be your tax deductions. And, as we all know, if you’ve paid any medical bills, been to the dentist, spent any time in the hospital, or had any sort of doctor-patient interactions, there is potentially a treasure trove of tax deductions just waiting to be discovered.


But what can you deduct? What amount of your medical expenses are tax deductible? Do you have to show proof of the expenses that you’re claiming as deductions? Whose medical bills are able to be deducted?

These are some very common questions about medical expenses, so let’s just dive right in.

You Can Deduct Medical Expenses

More than a few people are surprised to learn that a portion of the cost of their medical and dental expenses can be subtracted, or deducted, from their adjusted gross income. However, on your 2012 taxes, only medical and dental expenses that meet the government’s minimum required amount, which is anything above 7 ½ percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI), are eligible.

In other words, if your medical expenses aren’t equal to or greater than 7 and a half percent of your income, you can’t claim them as tax deductions.

Of course, these expenses can only be deducted from your income if you itemize your tax deductions instead of taking the standard deduction.

Whose Expenses Can Be Deducted?

Whether you’re a first-timer in the medical deductions arena or a seasoned veteran, it’s important to know exactly whose medical expenses can be deducted from your income.

Although almost everyone’s life (and therefore tax) situation is unique, you can somewhat generalize the rules about medical and dental deductions. Here’s the low-down: you can deduct your medical and dental expenses, those of your spouse, or the expenses of your dependent’s – if you choose to itemize.

If you’re not sure about itemizing your deductions, TurboTax will figure out which choice benefits you best – itemize or take the standard deduction.

Exactly Which Medical and Dental Expenses Can I Deduct?

The government has an enormous list of qualifying medical and dental expenses that they have ruled as eligible for deduction on your income taxes. For a full list of every piece of information dealing with deductible medical expenses, see IRS Publication 502.

For time’s sake, here are a few of the most common expenses (and some commonly overlooked expenses) that are deductible.

  • Diagnosis and Cures
  • Annual Physical Exams
  • Medicine, Treatment and Prevention
  • Dental Treatments
  • Medical Equipment, Supplies and Diagnosis Devices
  • Ambulance and Other Medical Professional Transportation
  • Travel expenses to and from treatment
  • Insurance payments
  • Chiropractor
  • Psychologist
  • Physical Therapy

Medical Expenses that Aren’t Deductible

The IRS updates the list of medical expense deductions quite frequently, from a tax perspective, so it’s important to know not only what is considered deductible, but what isn’t.

A few expenses that may be medical-related but aren’t as of yet deductible, according to Uncle Sam, are:

  • Elective cosmetic surgery
  • Medicine that isn’t FDA approved
  • Expenses related to a funeral
  • Medicare tax payments (for the self-employment tax)

Comments (96) Leave your comment

  1. Hi, I use HR Block to do my taxes myself, and while I am relatively new to doing my own taxes; I as stunned when I only received $seventy five dollars return for over four thousand dollars of prescription and copay from last year. I am still struggling with an illness and cannot believe that is what I have to look for ward to. Did I maybe do something wrong in my entry?

  2. Hi, I haven’t claimed the medical expenses for this year.. could you please let me know how much tax will be deducted if we are not providing the medical bills

  3. Can i deduct the cost of a person caring for myself .im disable and i have a lady that comes and clean my clothes, give my medicines. Bathing myself and feed me. I pay her about 8000 dollars for this last year

      1. Hi Cari,
        Yes, if it is part of your medical treatment, massage therapy may be tax deductible.
        Thank you,
        Lisa Greene-Lewis

  4. Had a problem trying to claim medical expenses on turbo tax for my wife. Once done entering all the information and deductions it asked if she received a publication 502 from the IRS. She did not so I said no. Well then she could not get the tax exemption from her medical expenses because I said no. What went wrong? Her medical expenses are over the 10%. Thanks for your help.

    1. I had the same thing happen to me. My medical total was over $7000.I am on social security & medicare.My wife is on my employers health care. Turbo tax said I needed some kind of kit,so I just let it go. WHAT HAPPENED/////

  5. I had to have a total thyroidectomy in October 2014 due to thyroid cancer. The total bills that I owe for everything they did (diagnosis, tests, surgery, medication, etc), do total more than 10% of my gross income. Can I deduct what I owe, or only what I have actually paid? I am making monthly payments on the total amount owed.

      1. What about if the amount was transferred to a collection agency and monthly payments are being made to pay the medical bill?

    1. Only what you paid and in the year you paid it even if the work was done in another year. Usually you should try to pay it all in same year to max deduction-even if you need to borrow the $

  6. Can I deduct at end of year my monthly premiums for my health care. On taxes. I pay I monthly costs and I am seeking to see what options I have.

  7. I’m not sure exactly why but this site is loading extremely slow for me.
    Is anyone else having this problem or is it a issue on my end?
    I’ll check back later and see if the problem still

  8. I’m now not sure the place you’re getting your info, but great topic.
    I must spend a while studying much more or working out more.
    Thanks for excellent info I was in search of this info for my mission.

  9. I am traveling weekly to have my daughter’s medical condition treated and must use vacation time I would otherwise be allowed to accrue over time. I now the travel expenses are deductible, but can I deduct the value of that vacation time I am compelled to use rather than save?

  10. My daughter is bipolar and I am paying her medical bills, She 100% depending on me. But she is doing a part tiem job, and as of now her total income is $3,300. If her income exceeds $3,900 can I still claim her medical bills as part of my Medical deductions for my 2014?

  11. My husband has parkinson’s disease . I think the cost of a home health aide would be tax deductible if over 7 1/2 of my income. In our case 7 1/2 % of my retirement income is in the neighborhood of roughly $30,000. Does this mean that I pay the first $30,000 and can only deduct the amount over $30,000?

    Can central air conditioning cost be counted as a tax deduction?

    We never claimed the cost of chair lift . Can I cliam this year?

  12. I am on Social Security Disability and 58 years old. I pay for a supplement also. Are my deductions from my Social Security deductible?
    Are my payments for the supplement deductible? What about my out of pocket expenses?

  13. If I had lasik in December 2013 can I deduct it in 2014 on my taxes? Is it when you paid it or when you had it done?

    1. Hi Mark,
      It is based on when it is paid. If you charged the expense on a credit card in 2013 then you can still claim the medical expense on your taxes.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

      1. I financed dental implants for 12 months no interest. I will make 8 payments in 2014 and the remaining 4 in 2015. Do I claim the entire cost of the implants in 2014 or just the amount of the 8 payments in 2014 and the other 4 count in 2015?

  14. Hi
    My son needs to vista eye specialist every few months and wears glasses and patches. Can I clam his eye specialist appointments and his glasses on my tax

  15. Am I able to deduct medical payments that had aged enough, that they were turned over to a collection agency? Minus the interest charges of course.

  16. Hi, A person is on total disability and self-employed part time. In the past (before 2013) he has been unable to do even part time work. Continued medical treatment (from a Psychologist for a psychiatric disability) was necessary to enable him to work in 2013.( Note, he started treatment years before and starting to work was part of the process of recovery). So… Disability Related Work Expenses can be claimed even if they are below the 10% of AGI threshhold that applies to regular Medical Expenses (or 7% for older folks). A reader for a blind person, wheelchairs, etc necessary for work can be claimed as Disability Related Work Expenses (DRWE’s). My question: Can the cost in 2013 of treatment by the Psychologist as mentioned above be claimed as a DRWE, rather than as a regular medical expense? It would make a big difference in the return if it could.Thank you.

  17. My husband was in the hospital Dec.of 2013. we did not receive bills until Jan.2014 consequently they were paid in 2014. Can we claim them in 2013 or must we wait until 2014?

  18. If i get elective cosmetic surgery for my eyes to improve my vision for work, can i claim that in my taxes or no??

  19. I have been seeing a Chiropractor for back pain and would like to have a breast reduction due to back pain also. My insurance is terrible and will not cover this. Would this be something I could claim if I pay out of pocket or would this be considered cosmetic??

  20. I had to have a dental extraction on a front tooth and the dentist recommended an implant. Is this an allowable medical expense.

  21. Hello,

    I am trying to figure out if we qualify for this year’s health care deduction. This is the first year we have had any real issues. My husband had surgery and so did my son and daughter. We do have family insurance paid before tax dollars. Is this 7.5 deduction the total billed amount or the copayment due after insurance payments?


    1. Hi Stephanie,
      You can deduct medical expenses that are over 10% of your adjusted gross income (New for 2013 7.5% if your 65 and older). So if your adjusted gross income is $50,000, you can deduct your expenses over $5,000. This would include medical bills you paid and copayments.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

      1. If I have an adjusted gross income of $20,000, and my medical bills are around $4,000, how much of the over 10%, $2,000, will I get back according to this years rules, or for 2015?

  22. Hi,
    Can you deduct payments to an agency for services rendered by a home health care aide? This is not nursing but assistance with normal living fuctions.
    The aide was hired for necessary bathing and helping an elderly dementia person who is severely disabled and in need of 24/7 care.

  23. I had gastric bypass and as a result have terrible stomach problems. Along with prescribed meds I have to consume 1/2 a bottle of tums each day. Dr says its ok because I have malabsorption. How do I deduct them and what else can I deduct as weight maintenance and needed care?

  24. Can I deduct my monthly insurance premiums
    or just the medical expenses actually incurred through my hospital surgery (5000.00) deductible?

  25. My mother is in a nursing home as a Medicaid patient. I pay to have a private aide come in every day to help her and provide assistance. Is the money I pay the aide deductible for Federal Income tax purposes

  26. Hello – can you deduct the amount for braces, headgear, and bite plates from the orthodontist to prevent the growth rate of my son’s bottom jaw? Wasn’t sure because it only mentions a dentist as tax deductible and not an orthodontist.

    1. Yes. An orthodontist is a dentist who specializes in the field. It should be covered if it’s a valid form of treatment. It sounds a bit extreme to me. Make sure you get a second opinion.

  27. IRS Publication shows Lodging expense costs are limited to $50 dollars per day. Me and my wife accompanied our daughter for treatment at a out of state hospital. Can we deduct $100 or $150 per day for the 2 days we spent making arrangements and discussing her treatment plan with the physicians at the hospital? Our daughter was an in patient resident. Are there any limits on the time spent away for the husband and wife to claim a lodging expense while the child is institutionalized for her illness?

    1. No, sorry. Only the patient can deduct health expenses. You went with your daughter as concerned parents. You did not travel there to get treatment. You should think of it as something you would normally do to help out a child of yours.

      1. That’s incorrect. Look on the IRS website. The amount you include in medical expenses for lodging cannot be more than $50 for each night for each person. You can include lodging for a person 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

  28. I just had an emergency appendectomy. I have gotten bills from the surgeon, Radiology, E.R., Hospital, and Anesthesia. It comes out to over $42,000 and I am just going to make what payments that I can.

    Do I just deduct whatever payments I have made at the end of the year?

  29. I am disabled and broke my foot. I had to buy a ramp to get in and out of my home can I claim that as part of my medical expenses?

  30. Hi! My husband uses a CPAP machine (which goes through insurance) and we were wondering if the supplies that he uses with the machine (nose gel pads and filters) can be paid for through the Health Savings Account. Thanks!

  31. Can I deduct the cost of having someone else travel with me for treatment . NIH Is paying my travel, but can i deduct the travel expenses of having someone travel with me.

    1. If you can prove that person is necessary for you to get to where you need to go, such as a driver or an aide, then you can. But if it’s just a companion, you can’t. A letter from your doctor saying this person is necessary to accompany you can go a long way if the IRS audits you.

    1. I’m not a tax expert, but your medical bills are your medical bills. It doesn’t make a difference if it’s for a disability or not. If your doctor says you need something, then get a letter saying you need that item as proof if there’s an IRS audit.

  32. what if my Chiropractor writes me a prescription for a hot tub as part of my back treatment? is the portion above my 2% deductible?

    1. Well, the medical deduction is now medical bills over 7.5%. You can try to deduct the portion above that. Make sure you get a letter from your doctor and you might want to run it by your accountant.

  33. I have been prescribed cold therapy for treatment of nerve pain. Can I deduct as a medical expense my ice packs?

    1. Are these special expensive ice packs? You can buy ice gel packs for $10 or $20 at the drug store. If you get a letter from your doctor, you can certainly throw them into the rest of your medical deductions, but the total amount of your medical expenses has to be over 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.

  34. Good morning. I have 2 questions. My husband has routine PET Scans that sometimes are not covered, costing up to $8400.00, can we deduct these from our 2013 taxes. Also, we have had to rent a wheelchair ramp for 12 weeks for recovery from surgery. Is this rental, not paid by our insurance, a tax deduction.
    Many Thanks

    1. I’m not an expert, but you should be able to deduct your medical expenses over 7% of your adjusted gross income from your taxes. Keep in mind you will have to itemize your taxes. You cannot just take the standard deduction. As for the ramp, make sure you get a letter from your doctor recommending such a ramp and it should be covered.

  35. Ive been told I can deduct my gastric bypass surgery expenses? Im also wondering about the specialty vitamins and protein supplements required after surgery? They can cost a couple hundred dollars a month.

    1. Hi Grace,
      As long as your doctor has diagnosed and prescribed this method to mitigate a disease such as obesity and high blood pressure you can deduct the costs of the surgery. Vitamins and supplements would not qualify unless they required a prescription from your doctor. Your surgery expenses must exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income starting in 2013. If your surgery was done in 2012, your expenses would need to exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income on your 2012 tax return. TurboTax will ask you the necessary questions and calculate the deduction if you’re eligible.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  36. are repairs to meet ada accesability standards on my primary residence now that i am chairbound deductable?

    1. Hi Jeffery,
      Yes you would be able to deduct them if they are necessary improvements due to your disability and if the expenses are more than 10% of your adjusted gross income for 2013. If the repairs were done in 2012 and you’re claiming them on your 2012 tax return you would be able to claim them if they are more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. Here is more information
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  37. My daughter had to have dental implants placed this year through an oral surgery… She was born missing two of her front teeth. Can I deduct any of this expense?

    1. Hi Julie,
      You can deduct the dental implants as long as they were not for cosmetic reasons. You can deduct your expenses that exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income. TurboTax will ask you the necessary questions and calculate the deduction you are eligible for.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

      1. i’m curious as who will be the judge if is cosmetic or not?my doctor told me implants were the only way to go.how often this type of deduction triggers an audit?

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