Cosmetic surgery is definitely not cheap, but if the Senate Finance Committee has its way, you’ll be paying more before you go under the knife. The federal government is considering passing a tax on “any procedure which is directed at improving the patient’s appearance and does not meaningfully promote the proper function of the body or prevent or treat illness or disease.”
The idea behind the tax is to raise money for national health care reform. Senators feel that taxing uninsurable procedures like facelifts, injectables, or liposuction is a perfectly viable solution. Surgeries that would help the patient solve physical problems, like reconstructive surgery and certain types of rhinoplasty, would be safe from taxing. Surgeries that were solely for cosmetic purposes, like breast enlargements, would be subject to taxation.
This “Botax” is not a new concept. New Jersey charges a 6% tax on non-medically necessary cosmetic surgeries since 2004. The state has not gotten the windfall it expected, unfortunately; it is making 75% less than it anticipated. As a result, critics feel a national version may be more trouble than it’s worth.
Another point raised is many of the patients who go in for cosmetic surgery—in fact, an overwhelming number—are female. Dr. Malcolm Roth, the vice president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, has noted this trend, and calls the committee’s proposal a “discriminatory tax against women”.
Is this truly a discriminatory practice in the making? Will this actually help raise money for health care reform?