Make all of your health care costs tax deductible

June 20, 2008

Rising gas prices may capture headlines, but today’s soaring health care costs are an even more consistent financial threat. The National Coalition on Health Care reports that in 2007, the average family health insurance premium topped $1,200 per month. That’s more than the average family’s mortgage—and health care costs are rising faster than interest rates!

Raising your health insurance deductible just a few thousand dollars can cut your premium by up to half. But that leaves you responsible for out-of-pocket costs. And even if you itemize, those are deductible only to the extent they exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. Is there a way to capture premium savings from high-deductible insurance and tax savings for out-of-pocket expenses?

If you have self-employment income, even from a startup or sideline business, you can take advantage of a little-known tax break to save a bundle on your family’s health care costs. Medical expense reimbursement plans (“MERPs”) let you reimburse your employees, their spouses, and their dependents for uninsured medical costs. Plan benefits are deductible by the business, and nontaxable to the employee.

Once you’ve established the plan, you can still deduct 100% of your health insurance costs. This includes major medical and supplemental coverage, Medicare Parts A and B coverage, qualified long-term care, and “Medigap” coverage. You can even reimburse your spouse for any after-tax premiums they pay through their employer.

You can also write off 100% of your out-of-pocket costs and bypass the 7.5% floor for itemized deductions. This includes routine expenses such as co-pays, deductibles, and prescriptions; occasional expenses such as eyeglasses, teeth cleaning, and chiropractic care; and  big-ticket items like orthodontics, fertility treatments, and schools for learning-disabled children. It also includes nonprescription medicines and health-care supplies. You can reimburse your employee, or you can use business dollars to pay health-care providers directly. For more information, see our office.

MERPs won’t make your visit to the doctor less painful. But they may be the best kind of tax strategies because they give you new deductions for money you’re already spending. Enjoy them in good health!

Donna Bordeaux is a Certified Public Accountant and Personal Financial Specialist with Calculated Moves, CPAs, PA in Lake Wylie, SC (a suburb of Charlotte, NC).  For further information about Donna or her firm, please visit

Donna Bordeaux, CPA with Calculated Moves

Creativity and CPAs don’t generally go together.  Most people think of CPAs as nerdy accountants who can’t talk with people.  Well, it’s time to break that stereotype.  Lively, friendly and knowledgeable can be a part of your relationship with your CPA as demonstrated by Donna and Chad Bordeaux.  They have over 50 years of combined experience as entrepreneurial CPAs.  They’ve owned businesses and helped business owners exceed their wildest dreams.   They have been able to help businesses earn many times more profit than the average business in the same industry and are passionate about helping industries that help families build great memories.