Medical & Disability

Which Health Care Expenses are Deductible?

Canada has earned the reputation for among the best health care systems in the world and rightfully so. Many people make the mistake of assuming we have free health care. Although the health care in Canada is publicly funded, there are many out-of-pocket medical expenses we incur on a daily basis. For example, range of necessities like eyeglasses and vitamins aren’t typically covered by provincial or employer health insurance. But keep your tax receipts, as certain health expenses are tax deductible.

Trips to the dentist are just one of the many health care expenses you can claim.

Trips to the dentist are just one of the many health care expenses you can claim.

Health Expenses Tax Deducible

The Canada Revenue Agency has a laundry list of health care expenses that are tax deductible. Common health expenses you can claim include dental visits, laser eye surgery and organ transplants, to name a few. The cost of any of these health care expenses that appears on the CRA’s list can be claimed on your tax return. Don’t forget to check the list of medical practitioner types and treatments eligible for tax deductions

Health Expenses Not Tax Deductible

The CRA has a long list of health care expenses you can’t claim. Before you claim a medical expense, consider checking to make sure it doesn’t appear on the list. The expenses you can’t deduct include non-prescription birth control, blood pressure monitors, diaper services and organic food.

“The CRA has a detailed list of eligible medical expenses,” says Brendan McCann, a chartered professional accountant at Kudlow & McCann in Toronto. “The most common medical expenses that taxpayers try and claim that get disallowed are athletic or fitness club fees, cosmetic surgery, over-the-counter medications, vitamins and supplements.”

When You Can Claim Health Care Expenses

The CRA is flexible about the length of time you can claim medical expenses. You don’t necessarily have to claim medical expenses incurred between January 1 and December 31. In fact, you can claim health care expenses incurred during any 12-month period, as long as it ends in the current tax year, and you didn’t already claim them in a prior tax year. Consider choosing the 12-month period with the highest medical expenses to maximize your tax deduction. When a family member or friend passes away and you’re doing their taxes, you can claim health care expenses over a longer period of time on their final tax returns; any 24-month period up to the date of death.

Health Care Premiums

Health care premiums you pay to private health services plans are tax deductible medical expenses. You can claim health care premiums paid to plans that offer a wide variety of benefits, including dental, medical and hospital visits.

A private health services plan is a health spending account where money is conveniently deducted from your paycheque. These plans offer you a tax advantage because you’re able to pay for medical expenses with before-tax dollars instead of after-tax dollars, as you would without a health spending account. While premiums paid for private health services plans are tax deductible, premiums paid for a provincial health insurance are not. For example, in Ontario you have to pay a health care premium if your taxable income is over a certain level. The CRA will deny your claim if you try to make it for the Ontario Health Premium, as it is public, not private, health insurance.

References & Resources

  • Canada Revenue Agency:
    Eligible medical expenses you can claim on your return


  • Brendan McCann, chartered professional accountant; Kudlow & McCann CPA; Toronto, Ontario

Photo Credits

  • Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images