I’ve discussed here in the past the attempt to charge a tax to those undergoing plastic surgery. This was to be part of the massive healthcare insurance overall that President Obama first proposed and which Congress has been negotiating. Those of us who practice plastic surgery have pointed out many reasons why this idea was simply wrong.
I have good news. It appears that the tax is out, having been resoundingly defeated in the Senate version of the bill. And although at this writing, the final bill is still being negotiated, there seems to be no appetite in either house to bring the tax back. Other taxes, instead, will help pick up the slack instead.
For those who hadn’t heard about this, what was humorously nicknamed a “Bo-Tax,” was actually a 5 percent tax on many plastic surgery procedures. This included breast enhancements, face lists and cosmetic injections, such as Restylane or Botox.
Early in the Senate negotiations, though, the tax was scrapped. In its place is a 10 percent tax on tanning services (unless the tanning is used for medically-required phototherapy, prescribed for many people with depression).
Even though this is no longer my battle, or the battle of my fellow plastic surgeons, to be honest, the tanning tax is almost as absurd. It was passed under the pretense that tanning is something done only by the wealthy, but that’s nonsense. Tanning is common among middle class citizens, and even many lower-class ones. But as I said, that’s a fight for someone else to undertake.
I’m thankful for the role that the American Medical Association played in the elimination of the plastic surgery tax. They gave the arguments against the tax a legitimacy that might have appeared to be lacking if only plastic surgeons had attacked it. The AMA managed to convince the Senate of the reality of the situation: that in the majority of instances, plastic surgery is legitimate surgery, done for legitimate reasons that generally improve the patients’ lives. And it’s never a smart thing to tax medicine for making a person’s life better.