'Bo-Tax' for Health-Care Reform?

by Esmé E. Deprez ,  Business Week | 2009-11-19

Plastic surgeons are hoping to nip a proposed 5% excise tax for elective cosmetic procedures from the health-reform measure Senate Democrats plan to vote on this week

The tax is just one of many ways the Senate bill aims to raise $6 billion to help pay for the $848 billion plan, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates would lower federal deficits by $130 billion over 10 years. The tax in the Senate bill would apply only to surgical procedures that qualify as "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 disfiguring disease." Doctors and health centers would collect the funds from patients and send them to Uncle Sam.

More than 12 million surgical and nonsurgical (minimally invasive) cosmetic procedures were performed in the U.S. in 2008, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Total spending on those procedures totaled $10.3 billion, with nearly half—$5 billion—deemed reconstructive procedures. Cosmetic procedures that are not elective would not be subject to the Senate bill's tax.