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Senate Health Bill Means Higher Prices for Cosmetic Surgery

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Thanks to what wags are calling the Botax, Houstonians who love
plastic surgery may find themselves asked to cough up a little more to
help pay for health care reform, says the Houston Chronicle. The
Senate bill under debate in Washington contains a provision that would
impose a 5 percent levy on cosmetic procedures not considered medically
necessary -- the liposuction, nose jobs and hair plugs that weren't
caused by disfiguring disease, congenital abnormalities or injury.

the proposal is decried by plastic surgeons, many of whose businesses
were hit hard by the recession. They say it's onerous and
discriminatory, targeting working women and suburban moms more than the
rich people the Obama administration promised would bear the brunt of

The Senate bill defines cosmetic surgery 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:

  • Such surgery brings in $12 billion annually, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
  • There were 12 million procedures in 2008, minimally invasive ones the most popular.
  • Botox accounted for 4.7 million.
  • Breast augmentations, the most popular surgery, accounted for 355,000.

85 percent to 90 percent of patients are women, plastic surgeons argue
the proposed tax is discriminatory, an argument supported by the
American Medical Association and the National Organization for Women.
Its president told the New York Times that "in a society that punishes
women for getting older," such a tax would further burden them.

does seem clear is that the women getting cosmetic surgery come from
all walks of life, says the Chronicle. According to ASPS surveys, 40
percent make $30,000 to $60,000.

"Elective cosmetic surgery is
perceived as a luxury good and is therefore an easy target for
reformers looking for means of funding health reform," says Devon
Herrick, a health economist at the Dallas-based National Center for
Policy Analysis.

Source: Todd Ackerman, "Senate bill's 'Botax'
wrinkles noses in Houston; Proposed 5% levy on cosmetic procedures
decried as discriminatory," Houston Chronicle, December 14, 2009.

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