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The Tax Deductibility of Long-Term Care Insurance Premiums

  • February 13th, 2018

Premiums for "qualified" long-term care insurance policies (see explanation below) are tax deductible to the extent that they, along with other unreimbursed medical expenses (including Medicare premiums), exceed a certain percentage of the insured's adjusted gross income. 

These premiums -- what the policyholder pays the insurance company to keep the policy in force -- are deductible for the taxpayer, his or her spouse and other dependents as long as they exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. In 2019, this threshold will be 10 percent. Those who are self-employed can take the amount of the premium as a deduction as long as they made a net profit; their medical expenses do not have to exceed a certain percentage of their income. What is deductible as a medical expense is spelled out in Internal Revenue Service Publication 502.

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However, there is a limit on how large a premium can be deducted, depending on the age of the taxpayer at the end of the year. Following are the deductibility limits for the current and past year. Any premium amounts for the year above these limits are not considered to be a medical expense. (The limits are adjusted annually with inflation.)

Age attained before the
end of the taxable year

Amount allowed as a medical expense in

2017

2018

40 or under

$410

$420

41-50

$770

$780

51-60

$1,530

$1,560

61-70

$4,090

$4,160

71 or older

$5,110

$5,200

 

To be "qualified," policies must adhere to regulations established by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Among the requirements are that the policy must offer the consumer the options of "inflation" and "nonforfeiture" protection, although the consumer can choose not to purchase these features.

The policies must also offer both activities of daily living (ADL) and cognitive impairment triggers, but may not offer a medical necessity trigger. "Triggers" are conditions that must be present for a policy to be activated. Under the ADL trigger, benefits may begin only when the beneficiary needs assistance with at least two of six ADLs. The ADLs are: eating, toileting, transferring, bathing, dressing or continence. In addition, a licensed health care practitioner must certify that the need for assistance with the ADLs is reasonably expected to continue for at least 90 days. Under a cognitive impairment trigger, coverage begins when the individual has been certified to require substantial supervision to protect him or her from threats to health and safety due to cognitive impairment.

Policies purchased before January 1, 1997, are grandfathered and treated as "qualified" as long as they have been approved by the insurance commissioner of the state in which they are sold. Most individual policies must receive approval from the insurance commission in the state in which they are sold, while most group policies do not require this approval. To determine whether a particular policy will be grandfathered, policyholders should check with their insurance broker or with their state's insurance commission.

The Taxation of Benefits

Benefits from reimbursement policies, which pay for the actual services a beneficiary receives, are not included in income. Benefits from per diem or indemnity policies, which pay a predetermined amount each day, are not included in income except amounts that exceed the beneficiary's total qualified long-term care expenses or $360 per day (in 2018), whichever is greater. 

 


Last Modified: 02/13/2018

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