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What Medical Expenses Are Included?

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Following are some of the covered expenses which may be paid out of your H.S.A. Some non-covered expenses are also detailed. Please visit www.irs.gov or the sites below to receive specific guidance on what expenditures are allowed.

Acupuncture

You can include in medical expenses the amount you pay for acupuncture.

Alcoholism

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for an inpatient’s treatment at a therapeutic center for alcohol addiction. This includes meals and lodging provided by the center during treatment.

You can also include in medical expenses amounts you pay for transportation to and from meetings of an Al­coholics Anonymous Club in your community if the attend­ance is pursuant to medical advice that membership in the Alcoholics Anonymous Club is necessary for the treatment of a disease involving the excessive use of alcoholic li­quors.

Ambulance

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for ambulance service.

Artificial Limb

You can include in medical expenses the amount you pay for an artificial limb.

Artificial Teeth

You can include in medical expenses the amount you pay for artificial teeth.

Autoette

See Wheelchair, later.

Bandages

You can include in medical expenses the cost of medical supplies such as bandages used to cover torn skin.

Breast Reconstruction Surgery

You can include in medical expenses the amounts you pay for breast reconstruction surgery following a mastectomy for cancer.

Birth Control Pills

You can include in medical expenses the amount you pay for birth control pills prescribed by a doctor.

Braille Books and Magazines

You can include in medical expenses the part of the cost of Braille books and magazines for use by a visually impaired person that is more than the cost of regular printed edi­tions.

Capital Expenses

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for special equipment installed in a home, or for improve­ments, if their main purpose is medical care for you, your spouse, or your dependent. The cost of permanent im­provements that increase the value of your property may be partly included as a medical expense. The cost of the improvement is reduced by the increase in the value of your property. The difference is a medical expense. If the value of your property is not increased by the improve­ment, the entire cost is included as a medical expense.

Certain improvements made to accommodate a home to your disabled condition, or that of your spouse or your dependents who live with you, do not usually increase the value of the home and the cost can be included in full as medical expenses. These improvements include, but are not limited to, the following items.

  • Widening doorways at entrances or exits to your home.

  • Widening or otherwise modifying hallways and inte­rior doorways.

  • Constructing entrance or exit ramps for your home

  • Installing railings, support bars, or other modifica­tions to bathrooms.

  • Lowering or modifying kitchen cabinets and equip­ment.

  • Moving or modifying electrical outlets and fixtures.

  • Installing porch lifts and other forms of lifts (but ele­vators generally add value to the house).

  • Modifying fire alarms, smoke detectors, and other warning systems.

  • Modifying stairways.

  • Adding handrails or grab bars anywhere (whether or not in bathrooms).

  • Modifying hardware on doors.

  • Modifying areas in front of entrance and exit door­ways.

  • Grading the ground to provide access to the resi­dence.

 

Only reasonable costs to accommodate a home to a disabled condition are considered medical care. Additional costs for personal motives, such as for architectural or aesthetic reasons, are not medical expenses.

Car

You can include in medical expenses the cost of special hand controls and other special equipment installed in a car for the use of a person with a disability.

Special design. You can include in medical expenses the difference between the cost of a regular car and a car specially designed to hold a wheelchair.

Cost of operation. You cannot deduct the cost of operat­ing a specially equipped car, except as discussed under Transportation, later.

Chiropractor

You can include in medical expenses fees you pay to a chiropractor for medical care.

Christian Science Practitioner

You can include in medical expenses fees you pay to Christian Science practitioners for medical care.

Contact Lenses

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for contact lenses needed for medical reasons. You can also include the cost of equipment and materials required for using contact lenses, such as saline solution and enzyme cleaner. See Eyeglasses and Eye Surgery, later.

Crutches

You can include in medical expenses the amount you pay to buy or rent crutches.

Dental Treatment

You can include in medical expenses the amounts you pay for dental treatment. This includes fees paid to dentists for X-rays, fillings, braces, extractions, dentures, etc. But see Teeth Whitening under What Expenses Are Not Includible, later.

Diagnostic Devices

You can include in medical expenses the cost of devices used in diagnosing and treating illness and disease.

Example. You have diabetes and use a blood sugar test kit to monitor your blood sugar level. You can include the cost of the blood sugar test kit in your medical ex­penses.

Disabled Dependent Care Expenses

Some disabled dependent care expenses may qualify as either:

  • • Medical expenses, or

  • • Work-related expenses for purposes of taking a
    credit for dependent care.

You can choose to apply them either way as long as you do not use the same expenses to claim both a credit and a medical expense deduction.

Drug Addiction

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for an inpatient’s treatment at a therapeutic center for drug addiction. This includes meals and lodging at the center during treatment.

Drugs

See Medicines, later.

Eyeglasses

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for eyeglasses and contact lenses needed for medical rea­sons. You can also include fees paid for eye examinations.

Eye Surgery

You can include in medical expenses the amount you pay for eye surgery to treat defective vision, such as laser eye surgery or radial keratotomy.

Fertility Enhancement

You can include in medical expenses the cost of the following procedures to overcome an inability to have chil­dren.

  • • Procedures such as in vitro fertilization (including temporary storage of eggs or sperm).

  • • Surgery, including an operation to reverse prior sur­gery that prevented the person operated on from having children.

 

Founder’s Fee

See Lifetime Care—Advance Payments, later.

Guide Dog or Other Animal

You can include in medical expenses the cost of a guide dog or other animal to be used by a visually impaired or hearing-impaired person. You can also include the cost of a dog or other animal trained to assist persons with other physical disabilities. Amounts you pay for the care of these specially trained animals are also medical expenses.

Health Institute

You can include in medical expenses fees you pay for treatment at a health institute only if the treatment is pre­scribed by a physician and the physician issues a state­ment that the treatment is necessary to alleviate a physical or mental defect or illness of the individual receiving the treatment.

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay to entitle you, or your spouse or a dependent to receive medical care from a health maintenance organization. These amounts are treated as medical insurance premi­ums. See Insurance Premiums, later.

Hearing Aids

You can include in medical expenses the cost of a hearing aid and the batteries you buy to operate it.

Home Care

See Nursing Services, later.

Home Improvements

See Capital Expenses, earlier.

Hospital Services

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for the cost of inpatient care at a hospital or similar institution if a principal reason for being there is to receive medical care. This includes amounts paid for meals and lodging. Also see Lodging, later.

Insurance Premiums

You can include in medical expenses insurance premiums you pay for policies that cover medical care. Policies can provide payment for:

  • • Hospitalization, surgical fees, X-rays, etc.,

  • • Prescription drugs,

  • • Replacement of lost or damaged contact lenses,

  • • Membership in an association that gives cooperative or so-called “free-choice” medical service, or group hospitalization and clinical care, or

  • • Qualified long-term care insurance contracts (subject to additional limitations). See Qualified Long-Term Care Insurance Contracts under Long-Term Care, later.

 

If you have a policy that provides more than one kind of payment, you can include the premiums for the medical care part of the policy if the charge for the medical part is reasonable. The cost of the medical part must be sepa­rately stated in the insurance contract or given to you in a separate statement.

Note. When figuring the amount of insurance premiums you can deduct on Schedule A, do not include any health coverage tax credit advance payments shown on Form 1099-H, box 1. Also, if you are claiming the health cover­age tax credit, subtract the amount shown on Form 8885, line 4 (reduced by any advance payments shown on line 6 of that form), from the total insurance premiums you paid.

Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Plan

Do not include in your medical and dental expenses on Schedule A (Form 1040) any insurance premiums paid by an employer-sponsored health insurance plan unless the premiums are included on your Form W-2, box 1 . Also, do not include on Schedule A (Form 1040) any other medical and dental expenses paid by the plan unless the amount paid is included on your Form W-2, box 1 .

Example. You are a federal employee participating in the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) program. Your share of the FEHB premium is paid with pre-tax dollars. Because you are an employee whose insurance premiums are paid with money that is never included in your gross income, you cannot deduct the premiums paid with that money.

Long-term care services. Contributions made by your employer to provide coverage for qualified long-term care services under a flexible spending or similar arrangement must be included in your income. This amount will be reported as wages on your Form W-2, box 1 .

Health reimbursement arrangement (HRA). If you have medical expenses that are reimbursed by a health reim­bursement arrangement, you cannot include those ex­penses in your medical expenses. This is because an HRA is funded solely by the employer.

Medicare A

If you are covered under social security (or if you are a government employee who paid Medicare tax), you are enrolled in Medicare A. The payroll tax paid for Medicare A is not a medical expense. If you are not covered under social security (or were not a government employee who paid Medicare tax), you can voluntarily enroll in Medicare

  • In this situation you can include the premiums you paid for Medicare A as a medical expense.

 

Medicare B

Medicare B is a supplemental medical insurance. Premi­ums you pay for Medicare B are a medical expense. If you applied for it at age 65 or after you became disabled, you can include in medical expenses the monthly premiums you paid. If you were over age 65 or disabled when you first enrolled, check the information you received from the So­cial Security Administration to find out your premium.

Prepaid Insurance Premiums

Premiums you pay before you are age 65 for insurance for medical care for yourself, your spouse, or your dependents after you reach age 65 are medical care expenses in the year paid if they are:

          1. Payable in equal yearly installments or more often, and
          2. Payable for at least 10 years, or until you reach age 65 (but not for less than 5 years).

 

Unused Sick Leave Used to Pay Premiums

You must include in gross income cash payments you receive at the time of retirement for unused sick leave. You also must include in gross income the value of unused sick leave that, at your option, your employer applies to the cost of your continuing participation in your employer’s health plan after you retire. You can include this cost of continuing participation in the health plan as a medical expense.

If you participate in a health plan where your employer automatically applies the value of unused sick leave to the cost of your continuing participation in the health plan (and you do not have the option to receive cash), do not include the value of the unused sick leave in gross income. You cannot include this cost of continuing participation in that health plan as a medical expense.

Insurance Premiums You Cannot Include

You cannot include premiums you pay for:

  • • Life insurance policies,

  • • Policies providing payment for loss of earnings,

  • • Policies for loss of life, limb, sight, etc.,

  • • Policies that pay you a guaranteed amount each week for a stated number of weeks if you are hospi­talized for sickness or injury, or

  • • The part of your car insurance premiums that pro­vides medical insurance coverage for all persons injured in or by your car because the part of the premium for you, your spouse, and your dependents is not stated separately from the part of the premium for medical care for others.

 

Laboratory Fees

You can include in medical expenses the amounts you pay for laboratory fees that are part of medical care.

Lead-Based Paint Removal

You can include in medical expenses the cost of removing lead-based paints from surfaces in your home to prevent a child who has or has had lead poisoning from eating the paint. These surfaces must be in poor repair (peeling or cracking) or within the child’s reach. The cost of repainting the scraped area is not a medical expense.

If, instead of removing the paint, you cover the area with wallboard or paneling, treat these items as capital ex­penses. See Capital Expenses, earlier. Do not include the cost of painting the wallboard as a medical expense.

Learning Disability

See Special Education, later.

Legal Fees

You can include in medical expenses legal fees you paid that are necessary to authorize treatment for mental ill­ness. However, you cannot include in medical expenses fees for the management of a guardianship estate, fees for conducting the affairs of the person being treated, or other fees that are not necessary for medical care.

Lifetime Care—Advance Payments

You can include in medical expenses a part of a life-care fee or “founder’s fee” you pay either monthly or as a lump sum under an agreement with a retirement home. The part of the payment you include is the amount properly alloca­ble to medical care. The agreement must require that you pay a specific fee as a condition for the home’s promise to provide lifetime care that includes medical care. You can use a statement from the retirement home to prove the amount properly allocable to medical care. The statement must be based either on the home’s prior experience or on information from a comparable home.

Dependents with disabilities. You can include in medi­cal expenses advance payments to a private institution for lifetime care, treatment, and training of your physically or mentally impaired child upon your death or when you become unable to provide care. The payments must be a condition for the institution’s future acceptance of your child and must not be refundable.

Payments for future medical care. Generally, you can­not include in medical expenses current payments for medical care (including medical insurance) to be provided substantially beyond the end of the year. This rule does not apply in situations where the future care is purchased in connection with obtaining lifetime care of the type de­scribed earlier.

Lodging

You can include in medical expenses the cost of meals and lodging at a hospital or similar institution if a principal reason for being there is to receive medical care. See Nursing Home, later.

You may be able to include in medical expenses the cost of lodging not provided in a hospital or similar institu­tion. You can include the cost of such lodging while away from home if all of the following requirements are met.

  • 1. The lodging is primarily for and essential to medical care.

  • 2. The medical care is provided by a doctor in a li-
    censed hospital or in a medical care facility related
    to, or the equivalent of, a licensed hospital.

  • 3. The lodging is not lavish or extravagant under the
    circumstances.

  • 4. There is no significant element of personal pleasure, recreation, or vacation in the travel away from home.

 

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. Meals are not included.

Do not include the cost of lodging while away from home for medical treatment if that treatment is not received from a doctor in a licensed hospital or in a medical care facility related to, or the equivalent of, a licensed hospital or if that lodging is not primarily for or essential to the medical care received.

Long-Term Care

You can include in medical expenses amounts paid for qualified long-term care services and premiums paid for qualified long-term care insurance contracts.

Qualified Long-Term Care Services

Qualified long-term care services are necessary diagnos­tic, preventive, therapeutic, curing, treating, mitigating, re­habilitative services, and maintenance and personal care services (defined later) that are:

  • 1. Required by a chronically ill individual, and

  • 2. Provided pursuant to a plan of care prescribed by a licensed health care practitioner.

 

Chronically ill individual. An individual is chronically ill if, within the previous 12 months, a licensed health care practitioner has certified that the individual meets either of the following descriptions.

  • 1. He or she is unable to perform at least two activities of daily living without substantial assistance from an­other individual for at least 90 days, due to a loss of functional capacity. Activities of daily living are eat­ing, toileting, transferring, bathing, dressing, and con­tinence.

  • 2. He or she requires substantial supervision to be pro­tected from threats to health and safety due to se­vere cognitive impairment.

 

Maintenance and personal care services. Mainte­nance or personal care services is care which has as its primary purpose the providing of a chronically ill individual with needed assistance with his or her disabilities (including protection from threats to health and safety due to severe cognitive impairment).

Qualified Long-Term Care Insurance Contracts

A qualified long-term care insurance contract is an insur­ance contract that provides only coverage of qualified long-term care services. The contract must:

1. Be guaranteed renewable,
2. Not provide for a cash surrender value or other money that can be paid, assigned, pledged, or bor­rowed,
3. Provide that refunds, other than refunds on the death of the insured or complete surrender or cancellation of the contract, and dividends under the contract must be used only to reduce future premiums or increase future benefits, and
4. Generally not pay or reimburse expenses incurred for services or items that would be reimbursed under Medicare, except where Medicare is a secondary payer, or the contract makes per diem or other peri­odic payments without regard to expenses.

 

The amount of qualified long-term care premiums you can include is limited. You can include the following as medical expenses on Schedule A (Form 1040).

1. Qualified long-term care premiums up to the
amounts shown below.

     a. Age 40 or under – $260.
     b. Age 41 to 50 – $490.
     c. Age 51 to 60 – $980.
     d. Age 61 to 70 – $2,600.
     e. Age 71 or over – $3,250.

2. Unreimbursed expenses for qualified long-term care services.

Note. The limit on premiums is for each person.

Meals

You can include in medical expenses the cost of meals at a hospital or similar institution if a principal reason for being there is to get medical care.

You cannot include in medical expenses the cost of meals that are not part of inpatient care.

Medical Conferences

You can include in medical expenses amounts paid for admission and transportation to a medical conference if the medical conference concerns the chronic illness of yourself, your spouse, or your dependent. The costs of the medical conference must be primarily for and necessary to the medical care of you, your spouse, or your dependent. The majority of the time spent at the conference must be spent attending sessions on medical information.

The cost of meals and lodging while attending the conference is not deductible as a medical ex­pense.

Medical Information Plan

You can include in medical expenses amounts paid to a plan that keeps medical information in a computer data bank and retrieves and furnishes the information upon request to an attending physician.

Medical Services

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for legal medical services provided by:

  • • Physicians,

  • • Surgeons,

  • • Specialists, or

  • • Other medical practitioners.

Medicines

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for prescribed medicines and drugs. A prescribed drug is one that requires a prescription by a doctor for its use by an individual. You can also include amounts you pay for insulin. Except for insulin, you cannot include in medical expenses amounts you pay for a drug that is not pre­scribed.

Note. This rule applies only to the deduction for medical expenses. It does not limit reimbursements of medical expenses by employer-sponsored health plans that reim­burse the cost of both prescription and nonprescription medicines.

Imported medicines and drugs. If you imported medicines or drugs from other countries, see Medicines and Drugs From Other Countries, under What Expenses Are Not Includible, later.

Mentally Retarded, Special Home for

You can include in medical expenses the cost of keeping a mentally retarded person in a special home, not the home of a relative, on the recommendation of a psychiatrist to help the person adjust from life in a mental hospital to community living.

Nursing Home

You can include in medical expenses the cost of medical care in a nursing home, home for the aged, or similar institution, for yourself, your spouse, or your dependents. This includes the cost of meals and lodging in the home if a principal reason for being there is to get medical care.

Do not include the cost of meals and lodging if the reason for being in the home is personal. You can, how­ever, include in medical expenses the part of the cost that is for medical or nursing care.

Nursing Services

You can include in medical expenses wages and other amounts you pay for nursing services. The services need not be performed by a nurse as long as the services are of a kind generally performed by a nurse. This includes serv­ices connected with caring for the patient’s condition, such as giving medication or changing dressings, as well as bathing and grooming the patient. These services can be provided in your home or another care facility.

Generally, only the amount spent for nursing services is a medical expense. If the attendant also provides personal and household services, amounts paid to the attendant must be divided between the time spent performing house­hold and personal services and the time spent for nursing services. However, certain maintenance or personal care services provided for qualified long-term care can be in­cluded in medical expenses. See Maintenance and per­sonal care services under Qualified Long-Term Care Services, earlier. Additionally, certain expenses for house­hold services or for the care of a qualifying individual incurred to allow you to work may qualify for the child and dependent care credit. See Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.

You can also include in medical expenses part of the amount you pay for that attendant’s meals. Divide the food expense among the household members to find the cost of the attendant’s food. Then divide that cost in the same manner as in the preceding paragraph. If you had to pay additional amounts for household upkeep because of the attendant, you can include the extra amounts with your medical expenses. This includes extra rent or utilities you pay because you moved to a larger apartment to provide space for the attendant.

Employment taxes. You can include as a medical ex­pense social security tax, FUTA, Medicare tax, and state employment taxes you pay for a nurse, attendant, or other person who provides medical care. If the attendant also provides personal and household services, you can in­clude as a medical expense only the amount of employ­ment taxes paid for medical services as explained earlier under Nursing Services. For information on employment tax responsibilities of household employers, see Publica­tion 926, Household Employer’s Tax Guide.

Operations

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for legal operations that are not for unnecessary cosmetic surgery. See Cosmetic Surgery under What Expenses Are Not Includible, later.

Optometrist

See Eyeglasses, earlier.

Organ Donors

See Transplants, later.

Osteopath

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay to an osteopath for medical care.

Oxygen

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for oxygen and oxygen equipment to relieve breathing problems caused by a medical condition.

Prosthesis

See Artificial Limb, earlier.

Psychiatric Care

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for psychiatric care. This includes the cost of supporting a mentally ill dependent at a specially equipped medical center where the dependent receives medical care. See Psychoanalysis, next, and Transportation, later.

Psychoanalysis

You can include in medical expenses payments for psy­choanalysis. However, you cannot include payments for psychoanalysis that is part of required training to be a psychoanalyst.

Psychologist

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay to a psychologist for medical care.

Special Education

You can include in medical expenses fees you pay on a doctor’s recommendation for a child’s tutoring by a teacher who is specially trained and qualified to work with children who have learning disabilities caused by mental or physi­cal impairments, including nervous system disorders.

You can include in medical expenses the cost (tuition, meals, and lodging) of attending a school that furnishes special education to help a child to overcome learning disabilities. A doctor must recommend that the child attend the school. Overcoming the learning disabilities must be a principal reason for attending the school, and any ordinary education received must be incidental to the special edu­cation provided. Special education includes:

  • • Teaching Braille to a visually impaired person,

  • • Teaching lip reading to a hearing impaired person, or

  • • Giving remedial language training to correct a condi­tion caused by a birth defect.

 

You cannot include in medical expenses the cost of sending a problem child to a school where the course of study and the disciplinary methods have a beneficial effect on the child’s attitude if the availability of medical care in the school is not a principal reason for sending the student there.

Sterilization

You can include in medical expenses the cost of a legal sterilization (a legally performed operation to make a per­son unable to have children).

Stop-Smoking Programs

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for a program to stop smoking. However, you cannot include in medical expenses amounts you pay for drugs that do not require a prescription, such as nicotine gum or patches, that are designed to help stop smoking.

Surgery

See Operations, earlier.

Telephone

You can include in medical expenses the cost of special telephone equipment that lets a hearing-impaired person communicate over a regular telephone. You can also in­clude the cost of repairing the equipment.

Television

You can include in medical expenses the cost of equip­ment that displays the audio part of television programs as subtitles for hearing-impaired persons. This may be the cost of an adapter that attaches to a regular set. It also may be the part of the cost of a specially equipped television that exceeds the cost of the same model regular television set.

Therapy

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for therapy received as medical treatment.

“Patterning” exercises. You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay to an individual for giving “patterning” exercises to a mentally retarded child. These exercises consist mainly of coordinated physical manipula­tion of the child’s arms and legs to imitate crawling and other normal movements.

Transplants

You can include any expenses you pay for medical care you receive because you are a donor or a possible donor of a kidney or other organ. This includes transportation.

You can include any expenses you pay for the medical care of a donor in connection with the donating of an organ. This includes transportation.

Transportation

You can include in medical expenses amounts paid for transportation primarily for, and essential to, medical care.

You can include:

• Bus, taxi, train, or plane fares or ambulance service,

• Transportation expenses of a parent who must go with a child who needs medical care.

  • • Transportation expenses of a nurse or other person who can give injections, medications, or other treat­ment required by a patient who is traveling to get medical care and is unable to travel alone, and

  • • Transportation expenses for regular visits to see a mentally ill dependent, if these visits are recom­mended as a part of treatment.

 

Car expenses. You can include out-of-pocket expenses, such as the cost of gas and oil, when you use a car for medical reasons. You cannot include depreciation, insur­ance, general repair, or maintenance expenses.

If you do not want to use your actual expenses, for 2004 you can use a standard rate of 14 cents a mile for use of a car for medical reasons.

You can also include parking fees and tolls. You can add these fees and tolls to your medical expenses whether you use actual expenses or use the standard mileage rate.

Example. Bill Jones drove 2,800 miles for medical rea­sons during the year. He spent $200 for gas, $5 for oil, and $50 for tolls and parking. He wants to figure the amount he can include in medical expenses both ways to see which gives him the greater deduction.

He figures the actual expenses first. He adds the $200 for gas, the $5 for oil, and the $50 for tolls and parking for a total of $255.

He then figures the standard mileage amount. He multi­plies the 2,800 miles by 14 cents a mile for a total of $392. He then adds the $50 tolls and parking for a total of $442.

Bill includes the $442 of car expenses with his other medical expenses for the year because the $442 is more than the $255 he figured using actual expenses.

Transportation expenses you cannot include. You cannot include in medical expenses the cost of transporta­tion in the following situations.

  • • Going to and from work, even if your condition re­quires an unusual means of transportation.

  • • Travel for purely personal reasons to another city for an operation or other medical care.

  • • Travel that is merely for the general improvement of one’s health.

Trips

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for transportation to another city if the trip is primarily for, and essential to, receiving medical services. You may be able to include up to $50 per night for lodging. See Lodging, earlier.

You cannot include in medical expenses a trip or vaca­tion taken merely for a change in environment, improve­ment of morale, or general improvement of health, even if the trip is made on the advice of a doctor. However, see Medical Conferences, earlier.

Tuition

Under special circumstances, you can include charges for tuition in medical expenses. See Special Education, ear­lier.

You can include charges for a health plan included in a lump-sum tuition fee if the charges are separately stated or can easily be obtained from the school.

Vasectomy

You can include in medical expenses the amount you pay for a vasectomy.

Vision Correction Surgery

See Eye Surgery, earlier.

Weight-Loss Program

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay to lose weight if it is a treatment for a specific disease diag­nosed by a physician (such as obesity, hypertension, or heart disease). This includes fees you pay for membership in a weight reduction group and attendance at periodic meetings. You cannot include membership dues in a gym, health club, or spa as medical expenses, but you can include separate fees charged there for weight loss activi­ties.

You cannot include the cost of diet food or beverages in medical expenses because the diet food and beverages substitute for what is normally consumed to satisfy nutri­tional needs. You can include the cost of special food in medical expenses only if:

     1. The food does not satisfy normal nutritional needs,
     2. The food alleviates or treats an illness, and
     3. The need for the food is substantiated by a physician.

 

The amount you can include in medical expenses is limited to the amount by which the cost of the special food ex­ceeds the cost of a normal diet. See also Weight-Loss Program under What Expenses Are Not Includible, later.

Wheelchair

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for an autoette or a wheelchair used mainly for the relief of sickness or disability, and not just to provide transportation to and from work. The cost of operating and keeping up the autoette or wheelchair is also a medical expense.

Wig

You can include in medical expenses the cost of a wig purchased upon the advice of a physician for the mental health of a patient who has lost all of his or her hair from disease.

X-ray

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for X-rays for medical reasons.

What Expenses Are Not Includible?

Following is a list of some items that you cannot include in figuring your medical expense deduction. The items are listed in alphabetical order.

Baby Sitting, Childcare, and Nursing Services for a Normal, Healthy Baby

You cannot include in medical expenses amounts you pay for the care of children, even if the expenses enable you, your spouse, or your dependent to get medical or dental treatment. Also, any expense allowed as a childcare credit cannot be treated as an expense paid for medical care.

Controlled Substances

You cannot include in medical expenses amounts you pay for controlled substances (such as marijuana, laetrile, etc.), in violation of federal law.

Cosmetic Surgery

Generally, you cannot include in medical expenses the amount you pay for unnecessary cosmetic surgery. This includes any procedure that is directed at improving the patient’s appearance and does not meaningfully promote the proper function of the body or prevent or treat illness or disease. You generally cannot include in medical ex­penses the amount you pay for procedures such as face lifts, hair transplants, hair removal (electrolysis), teeth whit­ening, and liposuction.

You can include in medical expenses the amount you pay for cosmetic surgery if it is necessary to improve a deformity arising from, or directly related to, a congenital abnormality, a personal injury resulting from an accident or trauma, or a disfiguring disease.

Example. An individual undergoes surgery that removes a breast as part of treatment for cancer. She pays a surgeon to reconstruct the breast. The surgery to recon­struct the breast corrects a deformity directly related to the disease. The cost of the surgery is includible in her medical expenses.

Dancing Lessons

You cannot include the cost of dancing lessons, swimming lessons, etc., even if they are recommended by a doctor, if they are only for the improvement of general health.

Diaper Service

 

Electrolysis or Hair Removal

See Cosmetic Surgery, earlier.

Flexible Spending Account

You cannot include in medical expenses amounts for which you are fully reimbursed by your flexible spending account if you contribute a part of your income on a pre-tax basis to pay for the qualified benefit.

Funeral Expenses

You cannot include in medical expenses amounts you pay for funerals. However, funeral expenses may be deducti­ble on the decedent’s federal estate tax return.

Future Medical Care

Generally, you cannot include in medical expenses current payments for medical care (including medical insurance) to be provided substantially beyond the end of the year. This rule does not apply in situations where the future care is purchased in connection with obtaining lifetime care of the type described under Long-Term Care, earlier.

Hair Transplant

See Cosmetic Surgery, earlier.

Health Club Dues

You cannot include in medical expenses health club dues, or amounts paid to improve one’s general health or to relieve physical or mental discomfort not related to a partic­ular medical condition.

You cannot include in medical expenses the cost of membership in any club organized for business, pleasure, recreation, or other social purpose.

Health Coverage Tax Credit

You cannot include in medical expenses amounts you pay for health insurance that you use in figuring your health coverage tax credit. For more information, see Health Coverage Tax Credit, later.

Health Savings Accounts

You cannot include in medical expenses any payment or distribution for medical expenses out of a health savings account.

Household Help

You cannot include in medical expenses the cost of house­hold help, even if such help is recommended by a doctor.

Page 14 This is a personal expense that is not deductible. However, you may be able to include certain expenses paid to a person providing nursing-type services. For more informa­tion, see Nursing Services, earlier. Also, certain mainte­nance or personal care services provided for qualified long-term care can be included in medical expenses. For more information, see Qualified Long-Term Care Services, earlier.

Illegal Operations and Treatments

You cannot include in medical expenses amounts you pay for illegal operations, treatments, or controlled substances whether rendered or prescribed by licensed or unlicensed practitioners.

Insurance Premiums

See Insurance Premiums under What Medical Expenses Are Includible, earlier.

Maternity Clothes

You cannot include in medical expenses amounts you pay for maternity clothes.

Medical Savings Account (MSA)

You cannot include in medical expenses amounts you contribute to an Archer MSA. You cannot include medical expenses you pay for with a tax-free distribution from your Archer MSA. You also cannot use other funds equal to the amount of the distribution and include the expenses. For more information on Archer MSAs, see Publication 969, Health Savings Accounts and Other Tax-Favored Health Plans.

Medicines and Drugs From Other Countries

In general, you cannot include in your medical expenses the cost of a prescribed drug brought in (or ordered shipped) from another country, because you can only include the cost of a drug that was imported legally. (You can include the cost of a prescribed drug the Food and Drug Administration announces can be legally imported by individuals.) However, you can include the cost of a pre­scribed drug you purchase and consume in another coun­try if the drug is legal in both the other country and the United States .

Nonprescription Drugs and Medicines

Except for insulin, you cannot include in medical expenses amounts you pay for a drug that is not prescribed.

Example. You doctor recommends that you take aspi­rin. Because aspirin is a drug that does not require a physician’s prescription, you cannot include its cost in your medical expenses. But, see Note under Medicines, earlier.

Nutritional Supplements

You cannot include in medical expenses the cost of nutri­tional supplements, vitamins, herbal supplements, “natural medicines,” etc. unless they are recommended by a medi­cal practitioner as treatment for a specific medical condi­tion diagnosed by a physician. Otherwise, these items are taken to maintain your ordinary good health, and are not for medical care.

Personal Use Items

You cannot include in medical expenses the cost of an item ordinarily used for personal, living, or family purposes unless it is used primarily to prevent or alleviate a physical or mental defect or illness. For example, the cost of a toothbrush and toothpaste is a nondeductible personal expense.

Where an item purchased in a special form primarily to alleviate a physical defect is one that in normal form is ordinarily used for personal, living, or family purposes, the excess of the cost of the special form over the cost of the normal form is a medical expense (see Braille Books and Magazines under What Medical Expenses Are Includible, earlier).

Swimming Lessons

See Dancing Lessons, earlier.

Teeth Whitening

You cannot include in medical expenses amounts paid to whiten teeth that are discolored as a result of age. See Cosmetic Surgery, earlier.

Veterinary Fees

Except for the care of guide dogs for the seeing-impaired or hearing-impaired, or for other animals specially trained to assist persons with physical disabilities, you cannot include veterinary fees in your medical expenses.

Weight-Loss Program

You cannot include in medical expenses the cost of a weight-loss program if the purpose of the weight loss is the improvement of appearance, general health, or sense of well-being. You cannot include amounts you pay to lose weight unless the weight loss is a treatment for a specific disease diagnosed by a physician (such as obesity, hyper­tension, or heart disease). This includes fees you pay for membership in a weight reduction group and attendance at periodic meetings. Also, you cannot include membership dues in a gym, health club, or spa.

You cannot include the cost of diet food or beverages in medical expenses because the diet food and beverages substitute for what is normally consumed to satisfy nutri­tional needs. You cannot include the cost of special food in medical expenses unless all three of the following require­ments are met.

      1. The food does not satisfy normal nutritional needs.
      2. The food alleviates or treats an illness.
      3. The need for the food is substantiated by a physician.
The amount you can include in medical expenses is limited to the amount by which the cost of the special food ex­ceeds the cost of a normal diet.

 

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