Your Incontinence Supplies May Be Tax Deductible

A doctor's diagnosis is an important first step.

by Lynn Wilson, Founder of The CareGiver Partnership

As costs rise for incontinence products and other home health care supplies, savvy consumers look into any possible means of reimbursement. Options for partial or full reimbursement depend on medical condition, age, financial ability and local resources.

Expenses for incontinence supplies may be tax deductible if shown they’re needed to relieve the effects of a specific disease, according to U.S. Internal Revenue Service guidelines. In cases where incontinence products are needed for a condition like simple bladder weakness, individuals may have other options for reimbursement.

First steps
Start by seeing your doctor, who may diagnose you with medical incontinence and may be able to advise you on seeking reimbursement based on your health and financial situation. Ask your doctor for a letter that explains your medical need for incontinence products and consult your tax adviser.

A diagnosis in writing from a health care professional is an important first step toward maximizing options for reimbursement, according to Heather McDonald, senior accountant with Roberts, Ritschke & Tyczkowski, Ltd. “If you have a diagnosed severe neurological disease — Alzheimer’s, for example — and you wear Depends, there is guidance to allow individuals to take the deduction. For something like bladder weakness, you’d need more extensive documentation to even consider the deduction,” she says.

In addition to Alzheimer’s, there are more than 600 neurologic diseases, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Other major types include muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, and Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases. Patients who have suffered stroke, injuries to the brain or spinal cord, epilepsy, cancer or meningitis also are considered to have neurologic disease.

Your health insurance plan
While many private insurance plans do not cover incontinence supplies, you may be reimbursed through a health savings account (HSA) or a flexible spending account (FSA) if certain conditions are met, according to McDonald.

“An HSA is self-funded; medical expenses are paid with a debit card or check. An FSA is employer-sponsored. It would have to be a qualified medical expense for both of them. It must be in writing or it would not qualify,” says McDonald.

With an HSA, funds contributed to the account are not subject to federal income tax at the time of deposit, and funds roll over and accumulate year to year if not used. With an FSA, an employee sets aside a portion of earnings, which are not subject to payroll taxes, to pay for qualified expenses; funds deposited into an FSA must be used within the calendar year. With flex spending plans, receipts are submitted to a plan administrator and participants receive reimbursement checks. HSA plans are self-administered to pay for medical expenses.

Medicare is a health insurance program for people age 65 or older, people under age 65 with certain disabilities, and people of all ages with end-stage renal disease. Medicare programs include hospital insurance, medical insurance and prescription drug coverage. To see if you may be eligible for benefits, use the Medicare Eligibility Tool.

Medicaid is health insurance that helps many people who can’t afford medical care pay for some or all of their medical bills. If you are a U.S. citizen with limited income and you qualify for Medicaid because of age or disability, Medicaid may send payments directly to your health care providers. Visit Medicaid for information on qualifications and to find a program in your state.

County offices for the aging
Check your telephone book’s county government section for aging and disability resource centers. These county offices may be able to direct you to resources to help you receive reimbursement.

Diaper banks
Some areas offers diaper banks, where products are donated by organizations or individuals, then given to people who cannot afford them. Although many diaper banks focus on newborns, some include incontinence supplies for adults. Check your phone book or look online to see if your city or state offers this service. Your local senior center may be able to help you find resources as well.

Next steps
When it comes to purchasing incontinence products for the first time, consumers easily can be confused by the array of brands, styles, sizes and absorbencies. And once opened, they can’t be returned, so mistakes are costly.

To remedy the problem, we have knowledgeable ladies to answer questions at 1-800-985-1353. And our website is packed with free, helpful, easy-to-find resources, including information on types of incontinence, a product finder tool, samples to try before you buy, a caregiver resource library and hundreds of articles.

Consult your tax professional for advice on medical and other deductions.

About The CareGiver Partnership. The CareGiver Partnership helps caregivers and their
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loved ones with answers to their caregiving questions, including information about home health care products and supplies, from our Wisconsin-based team of Product Specialists who are all current or former caregivers. The company’s Web site provides the largest online library of resources on subjects most important to caregivers — from arthritis to assisted living, and Parkinson’s to prostate cancer — as well as access to more than 3,000 home care products for incontinence, skin care, mobility, home safety and daily living aids. The CareGiver Partnership was founded in 2004 by Lynn Wilson of Neenah, Wis. Visit to learn more or call 1-800-985-1353. Help support this ad-free blog by answering several questions about caregiving here. It will take just two minutes.


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