Ask the Advisor: February/March 2016

Ask the Advisor: February/March 2016

Q: I turned 65 in February 2015, and started Medicare last year. Prior to getting Medicare I received my healthcare through my employer. Can you tell me if Medicare Part B and Medicare Advantage premiums are a deductible health expense? What other Medicare expenses are deductible?


A: You can deduct Medicare Part B premiums and other healthcare expenses, on Schedule A (Form 1040) that exceed 7.5% -10% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). The amount you can deduct is based on your birthday. If either you or your spouse (if married and filing jointly) was born prior to January 2, 1950, you can deduct the amount of your medical and dental expenses that exceed 7.5% of your AGI. People who were born after that date are only able to deduct the amount of medical expenses over 10% of your AGI.

For example if your AGI in 2015 was $36,000 and if you are filing as an individual born after January 2, 1950, then you could deduct expenses over 10% of your AGI or the amount of expenses that exceeds $3,600.

You can include medical expenses for not only yourself and your spouse (if any). You may also include medical expenses that you pay for a dependent like a qualifying child, or an aging parent, as long as the person was your dependent either at the time the medical services were provided, or at the time you paid the expenses.

Premiums that you pay for Medicare, your Medicare Advantage plan or a Medigap supplement, and Part D drug plan, may be included when figuring your medical expense deduction. You may also include payments for qualified long-term care insurance polices, dental or vision insurance.

For a complete list of medical expenses that are includable and those that aren’t see IRS publication 502 Medical and Dental Expenses. You can download a copy at

7 Things You Can’t Claim As Medical Expenses

  • Botox injections or face lifts. You can’t deduct expenses for cosmetic surgery UNLESS the surgery is necessary to improve a deformity rising from a congenital abnormality, an injury from an accident, or a disfiguring disease.
  • Dancing, or swimming lessons, even if recommended by a doctor, when only for improvement of general health.
  • Prescription medicines brought in or ordered from another country. BUT, you CAN include the cost of a prescribed drug that you purchase and consume in another country if the drug is legal in both the other country and the U.S.
  • Household help for personal services, even if recommended by a doctor. You may be able include certain expenses for nursing services.
  • Nonprescription drugs, even if your doctor recommends it — like Mucinex or aspirin. Except for insulin, you cannot include amounts you pay for a drug that is not prescribed.
  • Nutritional supplements. You can’t include the costs of vitamins, herbal supplements or other natural medicines, unless they are recommended by a medical practitioner, as a treatment for a specific medical condition diagnosed by a doctor.
  • Medical marijuana. Even if the substance is legal in your state, you can’t include controlled substances that aren’t legal under federal law.