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If it's not prescribed by a doctor? Our pharmacy will give them without a prescription if you're over 60.

--fleg
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If it's not prescribed by a doctor?

From Pub 502, discussing what medical expenses are deductible: Except for insulin, you cannot include in medical expenses amounts you pay for a drug that is not prescribed.

The classic example is that if the doctor writes you a prescription for 800mg ibuprofen tablets, you can deduct the cost of the prescription ibuprofen; but if the doctor just tells you to take 4 Advil at a time, you can't deduct the cost of the OTC ibuprofen.

I'll be interested to hear if any of the pros know of a situation where this would not hold.

Patzer
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It depends if it is authorized by the health plan and there is a protocol for the action. For instance Cigna reimburses flu shots and Shingle shots without a prescription at CVS Minute Clinics (supervised by a Nurse Practitioner). The last time I got a flu shot it was MUCH easier and faster there than in the doctor's office.

I'm not sure how that impacts a person who has no insurance who wants to pay full price.

Hockeypop
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It depends if it is authorized by the health plan and there is a protocol for the action. For instance Cigna reimburses flu shots and Shingle shots without a prescription at CVS Minute Clinics (supervised by a Nurse Practitioner). The last time I got a flu shot it was MUCH easier and faster there than in the doctor's office.

The fact that a health plan reimburses for the expense does not make it a deductible expense for income tax purposes. Many Section 125 reimbursement plans cover OTC medications.

Without doing further research, I would assume that any vaccine (such as flu/pneumonia/shingles which is available without prescription would not be deductible.

Ira
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The classic example is that if the doctor writes you a prescription for 800mg ibuprofen tablets, you can deduct the cost of the prescription ibuprofen; but if the doctor just tells you to take 4 Advil at a time, you can't deduct the cost of the OTC ibuprofen.

I thought this just sounded strange - that OTC wouldn't be deductible even if ordered to take it by your doc.
But here's the IRS ruling:
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/rr-03-58.pdf
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Without doing further research, I would assume that any vaccine (such as flu/pneumonia/shingles which is available without prescription would not be deductible.

Here's a question - are you paying for the immunization (the drug)?
Or are you paying for the procedure to inject it (the nurse's time)?
Does it matter? (Seems like it would change it's standing - but what do I know? :)

Every flu shot I've gotten has been administered by a nurse - so it isn't quite the same as an OTC med like aspirin, etc.
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Thanks for the responses. My insurance doesn't cover so I got a prescription from my doctor to get the deduction even though I don't need one to get the shot. That will take some of the sting out of it.

--fleg
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Not sure if this matters but flu shots and pneumonia vacine are both given by Walgreens without a prescription. Medicare pays for both. Walgreens just takes the customer's info and files the claim. I've always assumed if Medicare would pay for it, it should also qualify as a deductible medical expense. I get flu shots and H1N1 shot which I pay for myself (not on Medicare yet) and I've always deducted it as medical expense. Of course, I haven't been audited.
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I have taken over the last 40+ years and never had it questioned on an audit. Usually isn't material
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Not sure if this matters but flu shots and pneumonia vacine are both given by Walgreens without a prescription. Medicare pays for both. Walgreens just takes the customer's info and files the claim. I've always assumed if Medicare would pay for it, it should also qualify as a deductible medical expense. I get flu shots and H1N1 shot which I pay for myself (not on Medicare yet) and I've always deducted it as medical expense. Of course, I haven't been audited.

The fact that a health plan (even a government run one) will pay for an expense doesn't make it a deductible expense. Logic doesn't count, either, when dealing with the tax code. You have to look to the specific language.

Ira
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