Retirement on the horizon? 5 questions you should ask about health insurance

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Retirement equals lots of exciting plans for many people — as well as worry about transitions, finances and healthcare. What are the options for health insurance for retirees? These insights help you learn more as you start planning. Waking up on your own time clock. Hitting the gym after rush hour has passed. Meeting friends for lunch. If you're getting close to retirement, the good stuff is easy to understand. More complex: figuring out health insurance . Here's what to think about first. 1. When should I start exploring my options? You can enroll in Medicare three months before your 65th birthday month, but give yourself time to learn what the program offers, says Rebecca Kinney, acting director of the Office of Healthcare Information and Counseling for the Administration for Community Living with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Her advice: Dive in six months before your 65th birthday. You'll have a seven-month window to sign up, "but prices chan

FAQs for health insurance tax deductions

Detailed medical record-keeping can help you determine if you have potential tax-saving expenses.

Taxes and health insurance on their own are complex. Taken together in order to figure out questions such as "Are health insurance premiums tax deductible?"and the complexity multiplies. Here are six considerations about taxes and health insurance to help you keep the records you need to file your return every year.

1. Can I claim medical expenses?

Based on the 2021 tax rules, the IRS, "allows taxpayers to deduct the total qualified unreimbursed medical care expenses for the year that exceeds 7.5% of their adjusted gross income (AGI)". For example, say your AGI is $50,000 and your medical expenses are $6,000. Since 7.5% of your AGI is $3,750, you can deduct $2,250.

2. What medical expenses qualify?

In general, you can deduct many medically necessary out-of-pocket expenses, including preventive care, treatments, surgeries, prescription medications, dental, vison and medical supplies. (The IRS provides an exhaustive list.) You can even deduct transportation costs to and from medical care.

3. How do I claim medical deductions?

You must itemize your medical deductions on the Form Schedule A (Form 1040 or 1040-SR). Generally you should keep receipts for three years or longer in case you are audited.

4. Is health insurance tax deductible?

Possibly, if you pay health insurance premiums with after-tax dollars and your total medical expenses (including premiums) exceed 7.5% of your AGI, you can generally deduct them. Most group health insurance plans are paid using pre-tax dollars, but check with your employer to be sure. Medicare A (if voluntarily enrolled and not covered under Social Security), Medicare B and Medicare D premiums are all generally tax deductible. If certain criteria is met, self-employed individuals are sometimes able to deduct their health insurance premiums, even if their expenses do not surpass the 7.5% threshold.

5. What doesn't qualify as a tax deduction?

You cannot deduct expenses paid with a health savings account (HSA) or a flexible spending account (FSA). Cosmetic surgeries, over-the-counter drugs, health club dues and personal hygiene items are typically not tax deductible. Reference the IRS Publication 502 for a complete list.

6. Should I just take a standard deduction instead?

The standard deductions for 2021 are $12,550 for single filers and $25,100 for married, filing jointly. You should consider itemizing your deductions if your allowable itemized deductions are greater than your standard deduction or if you must itemize deductions because you can't use the standard deduction.

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