Deduction Dangers, Part 3: Medical and Dental Expenses

Find out which medical and dental expenses are deductible and how to claim them on your taxes—plus, some tax traps to avoid.

Laura Adams, MBA
4-minute read
Episode #262

Who Can Claim the Medical and Dental Tax Deduction?

To claim a tax deduction for medical expenses you have to meet the following 2 conditions:

  1. You must file taxes on Form 1040 and itemize deductions on Schedule A.
  2. You must have qualified medical expenses that were not reimbursed (no matter if you receive a reimbursement or it’s paid directly to a doctor or hospital).

What Medical and Dental Expenses are Tax Deductible?

Some common tax-deductible medical expenses include:

  • Fees paid to doctors, dentists, psychologists, and psychiatrists
  • Hospital or nursing home care (including the cost of meals and lodging)
  • Prescription drugs and insulin
  • Eye exams, eyeglasses, and contact lenses (including cleaning equipment and solution)
  • Hearing aids
  • Crutches and wheelchairs
  • Transportation costs essential to receive medical care, including ambulance service

Besides these ordinary expenses, don’t miss the non-traditional medical expenses including:

  • Acupuncture
  • Fees paid to chiropractors
  • Fees paid to a Christian Scientist practitioner
  • Treatment for alcohol or drug addiction, including meals and lodging—plus, transportation to and from Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in your community
  • Fertility treatment such as in vitro fertilization and pregnancy test kits
  • Lactation supplies like breast pumps
  • Sterilization procedures like vasectomy
  • Home improvements including modifications to bathrooms, doors, kitchen cabinets, entrances, and stairs to accommodate a disability
  • Cost of removing lead-based paint from your home
  • Owning a guide dog or other service animal
  • Participation in a program to stop smoking
  • A weight-loss program, when recommended by a doctor to treat a medical condition
  • Special education for a child with learning disabilities, recommended by a doctor

This is not a complete list of qualified medical and dental expenses, so be sure to refer to Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses for more information.


About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Laura Adams received an MBA from the University of Florida. She's an award-winning personal finance author, speaker, and consumer advocate who is a trusted and frequent source for the national media. Her book, Debt-Free Blueprint: How to Get Out of Debt and Build a Financial Life You Love was an Amazon #1 New Release. Do you have a money question? Call the Money Girl listener line at 302-364-0308. Your question could be featured on the show.