Cosmetic surgery could cost more under Sen.Harry Reid’s health care reform bill, which includes a five percent tax on elective plastic surgery. Not surprisingly, the proposed legislation has plastic surgeons pushing back.
As the debate about health care in America rages on, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has introduced the Senate’s version of the health care reform bill, which includes a new 5 percent tax on elective cosmetic surgery.
The bill would extend coverage to more than 94 percent of Americans and insure 31 million individuals who are currently uninsured. However, the bill also includes increases in the Medicare payroll tax, and the price tag for the new legislation is close to $850 billion.
The cosmetic surgery tax, also known as the “Botax,” that is part of Senator Reid’s proposed plan is estimated to raise $5 billion over a decade.
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“I’m against the tax,” says Dr. Joe Gryskiewicz, a board certified plastic surgeon practicing in the Twin Cities area. He explains that 40 percent of people who say they are planning a plastic surgery procedure within the next two years have an annual income between $30,000 and $60,000, according to a recent industry survey.
“These aren’t celebrities that are multimillionaires. These are average, working people who are just trying to make a living,” Dr. Gryskiewicz notes.
In addition, 91 percent of cosmetic surgery patients are female, making the proposed tax inherently gender-biased. Add to that the confusion over what qualifies as elective cosmetic surgery versus a procedure that is medically necessary. For example, if a woman undergoes breast reconstruction after a mastectomy and needs a breast implant on the opposite side to achieve a balanced, natural appearance, is one breast implant taxable and the other not?
Ultimately, Dr. Gryskiewicz notes, the proposed legislation positions surgeons as tax collectors — a role that, many would say, is in direct conflict with their oath to “first, do no harm.”