Plastic Surgeons Make Faces Over Health Care Tax

Senate bill calls for 5% levy; critics cry sex discrimination
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2009 10:44 AM CST
Taxing elective surgery would raise an estimated $6 billion.   (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
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(Newser) – Plastic surgeons want to do a little work on the Senate health care bill, nipping off a 5% tax on elective cosmetic procedures. The tax, expected to raise as much as $6 billion, wouldn’t apply to anyone trying to repair a deformity caused by birth defect, injury, or disease. But the surgeons argue that because 91% of cosmetic procedures are performed on women, the tax is discriminatory.

“It’s just unfair—I don’t think the people who wrote this understand who they are really taxing,” said one plastic surgeon. “This is truly a women’s tax.” Another argues that it’s not just the wealthy who go in for nip-tucking, but the middle class as well. “These are people just trying to better themselves,” he says. Others argue that patients will go under the knife in other countries to avoid the tax.