Senate Considers Cosmetic Surgery Excise

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Already-expensive cosmetic procedures may soon be a bit pricier. If the Senate Finance Committee takes the recently proposed idea seriously, the federal government may impose a 10% tax on what the law defines as “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.”

Seeking out ways to help finance a healthcare overhaul, some senators see a solution in taxing the very procedures that wouldn’t be covered by insurance: facelifts, injectables, hair transplants, veneers, liposuction, etc. While reconstructive plastic surgery and medically necessary rhinoplasty would not be taxed, breast augmentation and nose jobs done with solely aesthetic motives would be.

The notion of a “Botax” (as supporters and critics alike have already coined it) is not a new one. Several states have mulled over the idea, and New Jersey has been charging a 6% tax on cosmetic procedures since 2004. However, the state excise has reportedly brought in only 25% of the money lawmakers were anticipating, which may foretell the success of a US-wide tax of this nature.

In addition to opposing the bureaucratic barrier a cosmetic surgery tax could create, the vice president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Dr. Malcolm Roth, also takes exception to the burden it could put on one gender more than another, calling it a “discriminatory tax against women.” The vast majority of cosmetic patients-as much as 90% by some accounts-are female.

What do you think? Is this a wise way to fund healthcare reform? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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