"Botax" included in Senate healthcare bill

By Philippe Djegal - email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Some are calling it the "botax" - five percent tax in the Senate's health care bill that targets elective cosmetic surgery, like botox.

But is it fair?

Critics call it sexist.

"Anytime you target a certain group of people, it's basically unfair and it's un-American," said Dr. James Motlagh, plastic surgeon.

Motlagh says there are not a lot of men walking into his office seeking his services.

"Well, over 80 percent of people who are having cosmetic surgery are women," said Motlagh. "So, you're unfairly targeting women."

When originally proposed, the Senate Finance Committee left the five percent tax on elective cosmetic surgery out of the bill. But, this week, it was slipped back in.

"People will be less willing to have plastic surgery perhaps," said Motlagh.

The tax will reportedly generate nearly $6-billion in revenue over a span of 10 years, helping to off-set the cost of a healthcare plan that could cost $849-billion.

"I think that the tax is unfair," said Hayley Smith, 28, with Adagio Dermatology and Aesthetics.

Smith has counseled hundreds of women receiving botox over the past seven years. She also uses botox.

"It's more of middle class women that are coming in here that they do these things to make themselves fell better," said Smith.

The Senate Bill says explicitly that the cosmetic surgeries intended to correct a deformity or a personal injury resulting from an accident, trauma or disfiguring disease will not be taxed.

"But, again, it's gonna be left to the tax auditors to determine that and they're not clinical professionals," said Motlagh.

"Everybody's already pinching pennies, so much, I think that this will definitely decrease business for a lot of people," said Smith.

Doctors worry the new tax will force patients to seek surgery out of country.

"If you go someplace and you wouldn't drink the water, then why would you have you're surgery there," said Motlagh.

The average cost for botox ranges between $300 and $700. New Jersey passed a similar tax in 2004. The six percent tax was expected to generate more than $24-million a year. But, so far it hasn't panned out. Fewer people there are getting botox, and New Jersey is collecting under $8-million per year from the tax - far below the goal.

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