Democrats have included in their proposed healthcare reform bill a 5% tax for elective cosmetic procedures intended to provide funding for the reform's $849 billion price tag. The concept behind the tax is that it will affect the wealthy more than the middle class.
The idea that aesthetic procedures are a luxury of the wealthy is greatly misplaced. The vast majority of dollars spent on cosmetic procedures come from middle class women. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) 86% of elective aesthetic procedures are purchased by women. 91% of those are between the working ages of 19-64. Further, 60% of all people planning to have cosmetic medical procedures report a household income of between $30,000 and $90,000.
There are several major organizations and individuals speaking out against this tax for a variety of reasons. They span from a desire to protect the nation's self esteem to a fear that the tax discriminates against women. Whatever the reason, everyone agrees that we need to Stop the Cosmetic Tax.
Harmful to America's Self Esteem
Francis Acunzo, CEO of Acara Partners which develops, manages, and markets aesthetic facilities around the country has spoken out against the BoTax saying that it will cause harm to the self-esteem of millions of Americans. After either owning or operating over 70 aesthetic facilities he feels that aesthetic procedures are largely an impetus to greater health. People who have a procedure performed begin feeling better about themselves and begin taking steps toward better overall health. He states that cosmetic surgery is "almost always a catalyst for a lifestyle change."
Why would congress want to pass a tax on a procedure that can lead to greater health? Unlike other taxes currently placed on unhealthy pursuits such as smoking and alcohol, the BoTax takes aim at procedures that lift people up, make them feel better, and are often the beginning of a journey toward health.
Discriminatory Against Women
The National Organization for Women (NOW) is a powerful group founded in 1966 which fights for equality for all women. In a recent New York Times article, NOW president Terry O'Neill spoke out against the proposed tax. Speaking about the large number of women who are unemployed and feel the need to impress potential employers she said, "They have to find work... And they are going for Botox or going for eye work, because the fact is we live in a society that punishes women for getting older."
Furthermore she she points out that women often pay higher premiums for their health insurance. We live in a society that virtually demands that women maintain a youthful appearance and this tax will be levied against working women attempting to maintain the standard society has set for them.
In a poll of over 1000 Americans, 52% oppose a cosmetic surgery tax. Furthermore, 64% of those polled feel that a tax on elective aesthetic procedures has no place in a health care reform package. Currently, these procedures are not covered by health insurance plans. Payment for them largely comes from the hard work of American women. The survey found that there was no significant difference in opinions of the tax between men and women.
Dr. Michael McGuire, president of the ASPS, says "These numbers confirm what ASPS has been saying all along, that many people mistakenly believe that this is a luxury tax... but in fact, it is a tax on the middle class? despite President Obama's direct campaign promise not to raise taxes on this group of Americans."