I was recently told by a retailer that she charges tax on mastectomy bras, when I questioned it, she said that as far as she knew only the prosthesis was tax exempt.

Well, I can tell you all that I have letters from both the Ontario Government and the Federal Government confirming that mastectomy bras are not taxable.

They are RST exempt, and GST/HST zero-rated. Therefore – no tax should be charged.

So, if you are a retailer you can rest assured that you should NOT be charging any tax on mastectomy bras or breast prostheses. And if you are a customer, you should not be paying any tax. Wow, the Government does actually give us a break. Well done Ministers for recognizing that we breast cancer survivors need all the help we can get.

According to the Officer I spoke to at the HST interpretation office, he said he was sure that mastectomy swimsuits are also zero-rated, in fact anything that is made to assist you in the wearing of a prosthesis is zero-rated. So I’m thinking that means anything that is made with a pocket.

If you are charged tax and believe that it should be non-taxable you can call 1-800-959-8287 to get it verified.


Now, on the subject of private insurance companies, and whether they cover the cost of mastectomy bras, swimsuits and prostheses (silicone or non-silicone). This is a mixed bag because some do and some don’t. One of my customers recently purchased a Been-A-Boob and some of my bras. Her husband called and told me that their Insurance Company Green Shield, covered the bras – no problem – but questioned the B-A-B. After a big discussion with them about why they were questioning a claim for under $100 for a non-silicone prosthesis and yet wouldn’t question a claim for $200 for a silicone one, the representative finally agreed to cover the $100. They just asked for a prescription from the doctor and a copy of the receipt from the retailer.

So if your insurance company just says, “we only cover silicone prosthesis” stick to your guns and tell them that you should be able to decide which prosthesis you want to wear. I’m a bit cynical, and do believe that Insurance companies will try and get out of paying out if they can. So be assertive!

Do bear in mind that you are generally only allowed to claim one prosthesis every 2 years. I have also heard that they may ask you to apply to the provincial agency were you reside (ADP in the case of Ontario customers) then when (if) they reject your claim, then they will cover it. But make sure you fight for your rights, once you have done it and got it covered, keep the information so that next time you claim you have backup for previous coverage.

Until next time.