The U.S. Senate is currently considering a bill for what the media call “health care reform”, meaning the imposition of government-run healthcare. It includes a five percent tax on all cosmetic surgery – procedures such as liposuction, BOTOX® Cosmetic, and breast implants that are done to enhance one’s appearance rather than to repair an abnormality or reconstruct after an injury.

These are the procedures that insurance companies currently do not pay for, for the same reason. For example, rhinoplasty can be done for either cosmetic enhancement of the nose or for correction of breathing problems such as a deviated septum – and it can be done for both reasons at the same time. In other words, a rhinoplasty can give you both cosmetic and health benefits. There is an ongoing battle between cosmetic surgeons and insurance companies as to whether each rhinoplasty should be covered or not, or whether it should be partially covered.

The Senate’s bill would apparently classify all rhinoplasties as cosmetic, although without reading the bill, we cannot know that for certain. In the current declining economy, cosmetic surgeons have been suffering from reduced business to some extent, and are mostly opposed to any tax on cosmetic surgery.

Are You Among “The Rich”?

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), about 40 percent of cosmetic surgery patients are in the income range of $30,000 to $60,000. So it is not only “the rich” who have cosmetic surgery. It is anyone and everyone who saves up enough money for it, or who takes out a loan.

Also opposing this proposed tax are the American Medical Association (AMA) and the National Organization for Women (NOW). Most cosmetic surgery patients are women and this tax would unfairly penalize them. NOW’s president recently stated to a New York Times reporter that “in a society that punishes women for getting older,” this tax would punish them further.

As mentioned in this space on December 8, 2009, New Jersey has a breast enlargement tax and is now moving towards repealing it. It failed to generate the expected income for the government because it reduced cosmetic surgery in New Jersey. People went out of state for their procedures.

On a national scale, the same thing could happen. If the federal government taxes cosmetic surgery, many people may go to another country for their procedures. Cosmetic surgery tourism is already a thriving trade worldwide. In any case, according to Vivian Ho, a health economist at Rice University, whatever income a federal cosmetic surgery tax generated for Washington would be “a drop in the bucket”, since the bill’s price tag is $850 Billion.

If you would like to learn more about cosmetic surgery procedures (all currently un-taxed), please contact our Dallas, Texas office today for a free consultation with Dr. Rai.