Health Insurance Tax Deductions for an NRI in the US

As we all know, health expenses can be highly expensive so having health insurance and being able to claim a tax deduction would help save tax up to a certain extent.  However, for an NRI residing in the US claiming health insurance for tax deductions depends on certain conditions. It depends on the health care services and the expenses incurred by the NRI in health insurance. 

NRI Health insurance premiums and medical expenses can be tax-deductible only if they are paid out-of-pocket. Moreover, the financial condition of the NRs and from where health insurance has been received are two important factors in determining if the costs would be tax-deductible or not.

 Can Health Insurance Premiums for NRIs be deductible on Federal taxes?

The Health Insurance Premiums for NRIs are classified as deductible on Federal taxes as these are the monthly payments made for the coverage which can be termed as “Medical Expenses”. There are various sources from which health insurance can be obtained by an NRI and the scope of these expenses being tax-deductible.

a.When health insurance is sponsored by an employer

The premiums for the health insurance policies sponsored by the employer are not tax-deductible. Employers would deduct the premium payment from the NRI’s payroll on a pre-tax basis. So, the employee contributions are already taking the tax-saving advantage and further deduction is not allowed.  Moreover, the contributions made to HSA (Health Savings Account) are paid by the NRI on a pre-tax basis and would not be tax-deductible.

b.COBRA insurance

In the case of COBRA insurance, an NRI can continue the employer-sponsored coverage even though he is no longer working in that organization. The premiums for COBRA insurance are tax-deductible because an NRI would pay that entirely by himself on an after-tax basis.

c.When health insurance has been purchased through an insurance marketplace

 In this scenario, the health insurance premium of the NRI would be tax-deductible as these would be termed as “Medical Expense”. Suppose, an NRI is eligible to be enrolled in his spouse’s health insurance program which is employer-sponsored but he opts out for that coverage then he will be unable to avail the tax deduction.



The premiums for Medicare plans depending on the plan the NRI selects such as Medicare Part B, C, or D plus Medigap would be eligible for a tax deduction. In the case of Medicare Part A, the expenses would not be tax deductible if the premiums have been paid by Social Security. 

How to claim tax deductions for health insurance?  

There are two options offered by the IRS to claim tax deductions for health insurance by the NRIs. 

  1. Standard Deduction
  2. Itemizing the Medical Expense

In both cases, the AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) of the NRI would be reduced and the tax to be paid would be mitigated.

If an NRI is opting for Standard Deduction, then he would not be opting out for Itemized Deductions by default.  By Standard Deduction, the process of tax preparation becomes quite easy and simple. The rates for Standard Deduction in case of NRIs can be listed below.

  1. Single Taxpayers – $12,400
  2. Married taxpayer filing return jointly – $24,800
  3. Married taxpayer filing return separately – $12,400
  4. Head of Household – $18,650

In case an NRI decides to opt for itemizing the health insurance, then currently in 2020 he can only deduct those medical expenses which are allowable and exceed 10% of his AGI. 

An NRI can easily decide on choosing Standard deduction or Itemization of Medical Expense by having a look at his Schedule A 1040 Form. This would give him a chance to compare his itemized expenses with Standard Deduction and decide on which one to opt for. 

Health Insurance Deduction for Self-Employed NRIs

In case of an NRI being self-employed then his threshold for permissible medical expense deduction lowers down to 7.5%. Suppose, the AGI of an NRI is around $100, 00 then medical expenses which would exceed $7,500 would be eligible for tax deductions.

Those NRIs who are independent contractors can also claim the health insurance deduction under the Self-employed category. By this, a self-employed NRI’s AGI can be directly reduced by health insurance premiums.

What can and cannot be deducted from tax?

The IRS would allow for any medical expense that has been paid from the pocket prescribed by the doctor for a tax deduction. Some of the common expenses included under this list are Medical tests, Dental Insurance, Therapy, Crutches, Hearing Aids, Birth Control, Prescription drugs, etc. In addition to these expenses, some other expenses which include travel costs for health care are also tax-deductible.

However, some expenses are not tax-deductible such as co-pays, Premium tax credits, expenses related to cosmetic surgery or hair transplant, or expenses related to non-prescribed drugs, etc.