Ask Sea…

Question: I would like to claim Celiac on my taxes. How do I do that?

Answer: The primary vehicles for claiming a medical expense are the HSA* and
the FSA included in your health insurance.

Definition and requirements for a ‘Qualified Medical Expense’

IRS Publication 502

the bit about the food is in this section:

You cannot include the cost of special food in medical expenses unless
all three of the following requirements are met.

1.The food does not satisfy normal nutritional needs.
2.The food alleviates or treats an illness.
3.The need for the food is substantiated by a physician.

The amount you can include in medical expenses is limited to the
amount by which the cost of the special food exceeds the cost of a
normal diet.

IRS Publication 969

*Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

A health savings account (HSA) is a tax-exempt trust or custodial
account that you set up with a qualified HSA trustee to pay or
reimburse certain medical expenses you incur. You must be an eligible
individual to qualify for an HSA.
Qualifying for an HSA

To be an eligible individual and qualify for an HSA, you must meet the
following requirements.

*You must be covered under a high deductible health plan (HDHP),
described later, on the first day of the month.
*You have no other health coverage except what is permitted under
Other health coverage , later.
*You are not enrolled in Medicare.
*You cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s 2008 tax return.

What this all means:
If the parents are trying to get this kind of deduction they need to
talk with their HR dept… to find out if they offer an HSA or FSA
option. If they do, they need to enroll in it which they can usually
only do during open enrollment. They are going to need medical backup
if they get audited so they need to get a doctor’s diagnosis. Once
they have an HSA or FSA, they can use it to pay the difference in cost
for food for a ‘regular’ diet and the ’special’ diet

-Note: This is our understanding after researching the topic, but we are not accountants here at the Book of Yum and cannot provide legal advice. You should verify this with your accountant and the IRS.

Question: What is the deal with allergy testing? I had my child allergy tested and it seems like he/ she is allergic to everything.

Answer: Although allergies are not my area of expertise, I have read some very interesting articles which lead me to think that some allergies may be being overdiagnosed. Barring an obvious reaction to these foods, you may wish to get a second opinion on your child’s dietary restraints from another allergist.

Here is some food for thought:

New York Times article on Overdiagnosis of allergies in Children

Allergic Girl’s Response to New York Times Article

On Food Allergy Testing

On Food Challenges

*Note: While I have read as much as I can to get an understanding of this and other topics, I am NOT a medical practitioner and you should not take this as medical advice. Please consult your doctor (or preferably multiple doctors) in reference to this and any other medical decision.