Employee Benefits Compliance

IRS Says Lactation Expenses are Medical Expenses

“The Internal Revenue Service has concluded that breast pumps and supplies that assist lactation are medical care under § 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code because, like obstetric care, they are for the purpose of affecting a structure or function of the body of the lactating woman.” (IRS Announcement 2011-14, 2/10/11.) This determination affects Health FSAs and other reimbursement accounts and also affects the individual deduction for medical expenses:

  1. Health FSAs. Lactation expenses are reimbursable expenses under flexible spending arrangements, Archer medical savings accounts, health reimbursement arrangements, or health savings accounts. Amounts reimbursed are not income to the taxpayer/participant.
  2. Individual medical deduction. Amounts paid for breast pumps and supplies that assist lactation are deductible medical expenses, if the remaining requirements of § 213(a) are met (for example, the taxpayer’s total medical expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income).

The Service will revise Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses, to include this information. Prior to Announcement 2011-14, medical reimbursement plans could not reimburse for breast pumps unless the participant provided documentation from a medical provider that the breast pump was necessary to treat a medical condition (e.g. a breast abscess).

IRS Announcement 2011-14 is at: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/a-11-14.pdf