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Five Medical Expenses You Can Deduct on Your Taxes


Taxpayers can deduct medical expenses by itemizing them on their taxes. However, these deductions may be out of your reach as the current standard deduction is high. In 2024, the standard deduction is $14,600 for individuals and $29,200 for joint filers. Therefore, taxpayers generally itemize deductions if the total amount is greater than the standard deduction. If you itemize deductions, and you have unreimbursed expenses for necessary medical or dental care, you may be able to claim a tax deduction if they exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. Here are five expenses you may be able to deduct.

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When Can You Deduct Medical Expenses?

In some cases, the IRS allows you to deduct medical costs, including dental expenses, from your taxes. In general, the following rules apply to any deduction you want to claim: 

  • You must itemize your taxes, not take the standard deduction
  • The spending must have been on treatment for you, your spouse or your dependents
  • You can only deduct spending to the extent the expenses exceeded 7.5% of your AGI
  • The spending must have been unreimbursed by insurance or any other program
  • You must have spent the money yourself
  • In most cases, the treatment must be necessary rather than optional or cosmetic 

The personal spending requirement means that you cannot claim a deduction for payments made on your behalf. And the deduction only applies to spending above the cap. For example, say that you make $100,000 in taxable income and have $10,000 in combined medical expenses. You cannot deduct the first $7,500 (7.5% * $100,000) but you can deduct the remaining $2,500 in spending.

Households with very significant medical bills may get more value from itemized medical deductions than the standard deduction. If you would like to check whether you can deduct your medical expenses, the IRS offers an interactive assistant. Here are five medical expenses the that the agency allows to deduct:

Health Insurance Premiums

Qualifying taxpayers can deduct the monthly premiums that they pay for insurance coverage. These include expenses to HMOs, long-term care insurance and Medicaid payments.

Not all insurance will qualify for this tax deduction, so make sure that your coverage does. It also applies to dental insurance, which can often be more expensive than medical coverage.

Dental Treatment

Even when you have dental insurance, it frequently doesn’t offer the same kind of comprehensive coverage as medical insurance. Often dental insurance simply reduces or restructures how you pay for treatment. As a result, even among individuals with insurance it’s common to pay significant out-of-pocket expenses for dental treatment.

This spending is tax deductible if you meet the general rules for medical deductions. That can include spending on cleanings, X-rays, fillings, braces and other treatments, but not for cosmetic processes like teeth whitening. 

Medical Treatment Fees

Whether you see a private practitioner, a psychologist, a chiropractor, a surgeon, a specialist, or other form of medical practitioner, you can take a qualified deduction for treatment fees.

This deduction also can apply to nontraditional practitioners such as acupuncturists. It applies more broadly as well to treatment at rehabilitation centers, weight loss programs and cessation treatment for drugs, alcohol and smoking. 

Finally, you can deduct the fees you pay for treatment at medical facilities. For example, a qualifying taxpayer can deduct their expenses for hospital care or a stay in a nursing home. This deduction can include all of your costs of care, not just direct medical treatment. For example, you can deduct the costs of food and lodging during a hospital stay.

Prescription Drugs

After treatment, a patient may need to pay out of pocket for insulin and other prescription drugs. So long as you meet the qualifications, and the drugs are considered necessary rather than cosmetic or otherwise optional, this spending is tax deductible.

As with dental treatment, this is a common source of significant expenses since insurance often will not fully cover drug costs.

Medical Aids and Devices

Medical devices are in a broad category, and you can deduct qualified spending within it.

While medical devices generally apply to urgent care, such as pacemakers and oxygen tanks, it can also refer to much more common spending as well. For example, you can deduct expenses for eyeglasses, contact lenses, hearing aids, crutches, wheelchairs and service animals.

For most households, if you itemize your taxes, there’s a good chance that you will have some medical device spending to claim.

Bottom Line

An individual taxpayer reviewing which medical expenses he could claim as a tax deduction.
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Most forms of medical spending, from insurance premiums to treatment, are tax deductible if you meet the IRS’ requirements. To claim this deduction you must take itemized deductions rather than the standard deduction and must have spent more than 7.5% of your income on qualified medical bills. 

Medical Savings Tips

  • Health care spending particularly surges in retirement, as declining health often leads to more medical needs. This guide can help you plan for those costs in retirement. 
  • A financial advisor can help you build a comprehensive retirement plan. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

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