22 Healthcare Expenses You Can Pay for with a Health Account


Debra Gordon

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A Guide to Out of Pocket Medical Costs

When choosing health insurance, it’s important to understand your responsibility for medical costs.
Glasses and Contacts

Do you have a high-deductible health plan—one that has a high deductible but low premium? Then you probably also have a health savings account (HSA), a tax-free account in which you and/or your employer can deposit up to $3,300 for a single policy and up to $6,550 for a family policy (tack on an additional $1,000 if you’re 55 and older).

If you don't have a high-deductible health plan, then your employer might offer a health flexible spending account (FSA) or a health reimbursement account (HRA). Contributions to the account can be applied to medical expenses your health insurance doesn't cover.

Regardless of which type of account you have, you can only use it for certain expenditures. If you spend money on items that aren’t approved, you will face a tax penalty.

The Internal Revenue Service updates the list of approved expenses every year. For filing year 2014 (the latest update), qualified medical expenses include all medical services, such as hospitalization, tests, physician and nursing services, inpatient drug and alcohol treatment, mental health services, ambulance fees, medical supplies, and prescription drugs. The following expenses are approved as well:

  1. Acupuncture

  2. Artificial limbs and teeth

  3. Braille books and magazines

  4. Breast pumps and supplies

  5. Eye exams, glasses, and surgery

  6. Guide dogs and other service animals

  7. Insurance premiums

  8. Medical equipment and medically related construction for your home, such as installing ramps and widening doorways for a wheelchair

  9. Medicare premiums

  10. Hearing aids

  11. Removal of lead paint

  12. Legal fees related to authorizing treatment for mental illness

  13. Cost of meals and lodging if you are away from home for medical treatment

  14. Long-term care insurance premiums (up to a certain amount)

  15. Medical conferences related to a condition you, your spouse, or your children have

  16. Pregnancy test kits

  17. Special education for a special needs child such as tutoring

  18. Smoking-cessation programs

  19. Special telephones and televisions for people with hearing problems

  20. Transportation to and from medical visits, even to another city

  21. Weight-loss programs

  22. Wigs if you’ve lost your hair because of disease

To get the full scoop on these—as well as what you can't pay for with your savings account funds—see the official Internal Revenue Service rules.

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Medical References

  1. Publication 502. Internal Revenue Service. (http://www.irs.gov/publications/p502/ar02.html#en_US_2014_publink1000178885)
  2. Publication 969. Health Savings Accounts and Other Tax-Favored Health Plans. Internal Revenue Service. March 10, 2015. (http://www.irs.gov/uac/About-Publication-969)
  3. Chase Health Savings Account. Qualified Medical Expenses. (https://www.jpmorgan.com/tss/DocumentForEmail/Qualified_Medical_Expense/1281282494784);

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