Deciphering the Tax Deductibility of Health Insurance

Health insurance not only safeguards your well-being but also can provide financial advantages during tax season. This article will help you understand the tax deductibility of health insurance premiums and other related medical expenses — a topic that often leaves many taxpayers in a muddle.

The Concept of Tax Deductibility


Before we dive deeper, it’s essential to understand the concept of tax deductibility. When an expense is termed as ‘tax-deductible,’ it means you can subtract its cost from your taxable income, effectively lowering the total amount of tax you owe.

Health Insurance Premiums: Are They Tax Deductible?

The tax deductibility of health insurance premiums depends on several factors, including your employment status and the type of health insurance coverage you have.

Self-Employed Individuals

For self-employed individuals who are not eligible for employer-sponsored health insurance, premiums paid for health insurance are entirely tax-deductible. This is considered an ‘above-the-line’ deduction, allowing you to deduct the full cost of premiums from your taxable income.


However, the rules are stricter for employees. W-2 employees can only deduct the portion of their health insurance premiums that they pay out-of-pocket, and only if they itemize deductions on their tax returns. Additionally, these medical expenses, along with other healthcare costs, must exceed 7.5% of their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) to be deductible.

Understanding Different Types of Health Insurance Coverage

Different types of health insurance coverage offer varying tax benefits. Here’s a breakdown of how tax deductions work for various health insurance plans.

Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance

For many people, the portion of employer-sponsored health insurance premiums isn’t large enough to be deducted from taxable income. Most of these premiums are subsidized by the employer, with a smaller portion being deducted from your paycheck, tax-free.

ACA Marketplace Plans

ACA marketplace plans, purchased through a state or federal exchange at, are tax deductible. This can be especially beneficial for self-employed individuals who can’t obtain employer-sponsored health insurance.

COBRA Insurance Plans

COBRA insurance premiums are eligible for a tax deduction as a medical expense because you pay the premiums out-of-pocket without any assistance from an employer. However, you can only deduct the cost if the COBRA premiums and your other medical expenses exceed 7.5% of your AGI and you itemize deductions.

Short-Term Health Insurance

The premiums for short-term health insurance can usually be deducted as a medical expense. These premiums are paid out-of-pocket using pre-tax dollars, so if your total annual medical expenses exceed 7.5% of your AGI, you can claim the deduction.

Medical Expenses that are Tax Deductible

Apart from health insurance premiums, other deductible medical expenses may include:

  • Long-term care insurance premiums
  • Dental insurance premiums
  • Vision insurance premiums
  • Preventive medical care
  • Treatments for specific diseases
  • Equipment required for a medical disability
  • Mental health services
  • Travel and lodging expenses for medical appointments

It’s important to note that you can only deduct the cost of these qualifying medical expenses if the total amount paid exceeds 7.5% of your AGI, and you choose to itemize your deductions.

Supplemental Health Insurance: Is it Tax Deductible?

Supplemental health insurance premiums, such as hospital indemnity insurance and critical illness insurance, are generally tax deductible but only as a qualified medical expense. You can deduct the cost if the total cost of your medical expenses and supplemental health insurance premiums exceeds 7.5% of your AGI and you itemize deductions.

COBRA Health Insurance: Is it Tax Deductible?

The cost of COBRA health insurance can be deducted from your federal income taxes. However, like most types of health insurance, COBRA premiums are considered a medical expense and can only be deducted if you itemize deductions and your medical expenses exceed 7.5% of your AGI for the taxable year.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs): Are They Tax Deductible?

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), linked with high-deductible health plans, are tax-deductible, even if you take the standard deduction. For 2022, the maximum HSA contribution is $3,650 for individuals and $7,300 for families. Individuals over the age of 55 can contribute an additional $1,000 per year as a “catch-up” contribution.

When to Choose an Itemized Deduction Over the Standard Deduction

Choosing between itemizing deductions or taking the standard deduction depends on the total amount of your unreimbursed medical expenses for the taxable year. If these expenses exceed 7.5% of your AGI and the standard deduction for your filing status, it may be beneficial to itemize your deductions.

Remember that only qualifying medical expenses can be deducted. If your medical expenses don’t meet the necessary requirements, taking the standard deduction may be the better option.


Understanding the tax implications of health insurance premiums and other medical expenses can help you make informed financial decisions. While health insurance premiums can be tax-deductible in certain situations, it’s essential to consider other factors such as your employment status, type of insurance coverage, and total medical expenses for the year.

This article should serve as a starting point in understanding the tax deductibility of health insurance. However, this is a complex topic, and individual circumstances can vary greatly. Therefore, it’s recommended to consult with a tax professional or financial advisor to understand how these rules apply to your specific situation.