Health-Care Bill Threatens to Oppress Cosmetic-Surgery Patients

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The new oppressed. Photo: Getty Images

America: You may not have realized it, but buried in the health-care bill being debated in the Senate is an utterly nefarious tax. It's a 5 percent tariff on elective cosmetic surgery deemed medically unnecessary, such as tummy tucks, eyelid lifts, Botox, and breast lifts like the one 41-year-old "Jennifer" got after her breasts became saggy post-pregnancy, an operation that didn't just uplift her boobs, according to the Times, but uplifted her spirits:

“I’m single,” she said. “But now I’m not going to be.”


A lot of people think this tax — the so-called "Bo-tax," as it has been disparagingly referred to in the media — won't affect them. That it's a rich-people's problem. This, plastic surgeons say, is erroneous.

The 7,000-member American Society of Plastic Surgeons said its internal surveys showed that 60 percent of members’ patients earn less than $90,000 a year.


That's right. Just a little over half of people getting nonessential plastic surgery in the United States make under triple the median wage. But never mind getting your head around that. The point is that the sagging boobs whose lifting may become more costly through this piece of legislation belong not just to the anonymous wealthy.

“A lot of people think of this as a tax on rich Republican housewives; rich, nonworking Republican housewives,” Dr. Phil Haeck, the group’s president-elect, told the paper. “And that’s not the case.”


No. These sagging boobs are people's boobs. They are Jennifer's boobs, and your mother's boobs and your grandmother's boobs, and they could be, God forbid, your daughter's boobs. But don't worry: The plastic surgeons who plan to make a buck off exploiting people's insecurities are fighting for them! Because they care, and because they are unable, or unwilling, to fight for themselves:

Dr. Teitelbaum said some patients might be embarrassed to admit to having had cosmetic surgery. “They don’t want to come out and march on Capitol Hill,” he said. “You’re not going to have a million-man Botox march.”


Or a million-women, rather, since it is females whom the tax will most affect, according to Terry O’Neill, the compassionate president of the National Organization for Women, who makes the point: How will women support themselves if they are not able to rely on their physical attributes?

“They have to find work,” Ms. O’Neill said. “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.”


So this is the question, America. Do we want to live in a society that charges people who can afford it a relatively small sum for indulging in personal vanity? Or do we want one that does its best to keep the status quo, and encourages people to continue to buy into unrealistic standards of beauty by keeping plastic surgery relatively inexpensive for the few who can afford it? Think on THAT. And please, write to your representative.

A Tax on Nips and Tucks Angers Patients, Surgeons [NYT]