Botax: New Federal Cosmetic Surgery Tax?

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By Minara El-Rahman on December 03, 2009 6:00 AM

Feeling like there is more jelly to your belly than you would like? We all know that the holidays bring a whole host of body image issues thanks to endless feasting coupled with critical family members.

Then comes the holiday season that ends with the New Year's resolution to get into shape. All of these stressful moments may convince you that you may need some cosmetic surgery help... but you may have to pay more than you would like for it if the Senate gets its way.

Slate recently reported that the Senate healthcare bill proposes a new federal tax on injections and elective surgeries for cosmetic reasons. The proposed federal tax on the procedures would be 5%. This new tax would cover procedures such as injections for cosmetic reasons such as Botox, collagen injections, face lifts, breast implants and the like, leadng some to dub it the "botax.".

According to the Examiner, the procedures are outlined in the proposed bill as any surgeries that "not necessary to ameliorate a deformity arising from, or directly related to, a congenital abnormality, a personal injury resulting from an accident or trauma or a disfiguring disease."

The Senate hopes that by including this tax on elective cosmetic procedures that it can make over $6 billion dollars over the next ten years.

However, there are concerns that this particular tax is not only sexist, but that it can actually hurt rather than help the economy. Dr. Michael McGuire, President of ASPS is quoted by The Examiner as saying, "Elective surgery taxes discriminate against women, given that 86 percent of cosmetic surgery patients are female." Not surprisingly, more women than men pay for these procedures.

It also raises concern over whether the tax will be applied to reconstructive surgery. There are plenty of breast cancer survivors or women with high risk BRCA genes who get mastectomies in order to fight cancer. These women often get breast implants that may not be medically necessary, but which help them regain their confidence. Would they be taxed too?

Another concern is that a lot of plastic surgery procedures are paid for using credit. In fact, Slate reports that a full 85% of the procedures done are paid for by credit. A botax would basically be another heaping expense on top of the high interest rates that low income comsumers are already paying for the procedures.

In the end, it remains to be seen whether the Senate will retain this tax in their proposed bill. With the economy being what it is, it may be all the difference in the world. Gordon Patzer, author of Looks: Why They Matter More Than You Ever Imagined is quoted by Slate as saying, "Cosmetic surgery makes you more attractive, and it also increases self esteem, confidence, and persuasiveness, all of which make you a more productive and valuable employee."

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