Plastic Surgery Tax Added to Health Care Bill

(AP)
Democrats are attempting to improve Americans' access to medical care through their massive health insurance overhaul, but they may make it a little harder for those seeking out Botox or breast implants.

The health care bill unveiled by Senate Majority Harry Reid on Wednesday night includes a 5 percent tax on elective cosmetic surgery. The tax is expected to raise an estimated $5.8 billion over 10 years to help pay for the $849 billion plan, the Agence France-Presse reports.

The tax would only hit elective procedures -- it exempts any procedures "necessary to ameliorate a deformity arising from, or directly related to, a congenital abnormality, a personal injury resulting from an accident or trauma, or disfiguring disease." It would go into effect, according to the bill, on Jan. 1, 2010.

The "botax," as some have called it, was originally considered in the Senate Finance Committee but was dropped at the time.

Some evidence could suggest the measure may not raise as much revenue as expected. In 2004, the state of New Jersey passed a 6 percent tax on plastic surgery that was expected to raise $24 million a year. However, it only brought in about $7.5 million in 2005, the National Journal reported, and around $11 million in 2007.

The market for cosmetic procedures does not seem to have suffered from the bad economy: the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that 12 million cosmetic plastic surgery procedures were performed in 2008, up 3 percent from 2007. Surgical procedures, like breast augmentation declined, but minimally-invasive procedures like Botox increased. The professional group says the U.S. spent $10.3 billion spent on cosmetic procedures last year.

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