What qualifies as a medical expense?

Hearing aids and shark cartilage are in, laser hair removal – ask your doctor
By Shelly Shapero
|CHRR, Guide to Pensions & Benefits|Last Updated: 06/29/2004

Figuring out what qualifies, and what doesn’t, as an eligible medical expense can sometimes be more of an art than a science. As more organizations move towards flexible benefits for employees, it’s important to get a handle on what items qualify as a legitimate expense.

An eligible medical expense for a health-care spending account is an expense that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) considers eligible for the medical expense tax credit under the federal Income Tax Act.

But no comprehensive list exists that outlines what the CRA will allow as an eligible medical expense. Subsection 118.2(2) of the act and section 5700 of the Income Tax Regulations list many of the basic items, but the inventory does not include many new health-care expenses or any interesting spins. Innovative issues have triggered some court cases and have been the subject of numerous technical interpretations issued by the CRA.