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The Effect Of Americas Healthcare Reform On Cosmetic Surgery

The Effect Of Americas Healthcare Reform On Cosmetic Surgery

What does America’s new healthcare reform mean for cosmetic surgery? More tax…

America’s new healthcare reform has certainly changed the face of the nation’s medical care system, but while the change may bring benefits to some, it also makes it harder for those seeking elective surgeries.

Part of the new healthcare bill, passed in March, includes a 5% percent tax on elective cosmetic surgery – a charge many are now calling the ‘botax’. Democrats argue that the tax will generate $5.8 billion over the next 10 years to be put towards the bill’s estimated $849 billion price tag.

Americas Healthcare Reform

Americas Healthcare Reform

But the question is, “who exactly is the target of the new ‘botax’?” According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) the tax is directly aimed at lower to middle class female citizens.

Michael McGuire, MD, ASPS President explained: Surgery (ASAPS) oppose this tax as discriminatory, arbitrary and ineffective.

“Elective surgery taxes discriminate against women, given that 86 percent of cosmetic surgery patients are female, of which 91 percent are between the working ages of 19-64…

“Moreover, contrary to popular belief, cosmetic surgery is no longer an exclusive luxury afforded by the very wealthy, but rather a mainstream and reasonable option most common amongst the working middle-class.”

Saltz, MD, President of ASAPS, agreed:

“This tax is effectively a “Soccer Mom” tax that will adversely impact mainstream American wives and mothers, who are the majority of plastic surgery patients…

“As doctors, we understand and appreciate the need for health care reform, but taxing physicians and cosmetic surgery procedures to pay for the reform is not realistic or beneficial,”

In a 2005 ASPS survey of people planning to have cosmetic surgery within the next two years, 60% of respondents reported an annual household income of $30,000-$90,000 a year. Most importantly, 40% of those reported a household income of only $30,000-$60,000. Only 10% of respondents reported a household income of over $90,000, which clearly refutes the suggestion that elective surgery taxes are “luxury” or “sin” taxes affecting a privileged few.

There is supporting evidence experienced by the state of New Jersey, the only state which has already imposed a cosmetic tax. Since it passed a 6% tax on elective medical procedures in 2004, the state has seen a 59% shortfall based on projected revenue estimates.

The tax was supposed to raise $24 million a year, however it only raised around 7.5 million in the first year. Eight other states have considered similar tax legislation- and they all wisely rejected them.
Finally, though the bill claims that the only procedures that would be taxed are those that are “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 Societies contend that such distinctions aren’t always obvious. Because the line between ‘cosmetic’ and ‘reconstructive’ surgery is not always clear, such a tax would leave the determination of medical necessity up to state tax auditors – a completely inappropriate proposition.

Dr. Saltz, said:

“As doctors our first concern always needs to be patient safety, for those patients here in this country, as well as those patients who may now be encouraged by this tax to obtain their procedures abroad.”

Dr. McGuire agreed:

“The ASPS has, and continues to oppose all taxes on physicians, in any and all forms, due to their deleterious effects on health care costs and access to patient care…

“Medical care should not be used as a tool to fix broken finances.”

The be-all-and-end-of-it is simple, Americans opting for elective surgeries (or reconstructive surgeries that could be seen as cosmetic) will face higher charges. On top of the already costly fees of undergoing procedures in the U.S., and considering the wide range of affordable, first class medical care offered by some of the world’s top destinations such as Thailand and India, it’s likely that more Americans will be choosing to travel abroad for their cosmetic procedures.

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