I find it difficult to keep up with all of the tax gimmicks being proposed in Congress to fund the cost of massive government intrusion into the health-care industry, and the plastic surgery surtax is one that has slipped through the cracks. First floated this summer, the tax would impose a 10% surcharge on all plastic surgery, an industry that has little to do with health insurance in the first place. Fox News covers this from the angle of public safety:
This is a pretty poor argument. It’s akin to the abortion defense, which is that people will get forced into back-alley abortions if abortions are outlawed. Back-alley plastic surgery already exists, with predictably horrible results, and an increase in prices will probably increase that business. However, no one’s talking about outlawing face lifts. The biggest risk will be a reduction in business as some consumers get priced out of the market.
Better to argue that plastic surgery has nothing to do with the cost crisis in health insurance coverage. Why penalize a market that has almost no contact with either private or government health coverage, and when it does, it’s only because the surgery is desperately needed? No health insurance pays for elective cosmetic surgery. Consumers pay out of their own pocket, providers advertise and compete, and the result is competitive prices and plenty of providers to meet the demand. The government’s only motive in applying this tax is to suck resources out of a functioning market like a liposuction, and give ObamaCare a few sexy curves with them.
Besides, as the LA Times reported in July, it won’t produce the revenues they predict:
Not everyone thinks the tax will make much of a dent in healthcare costs. Malcolm Roth, vice president for health policy and advocacy at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, said a similar tax in New Jersey only brought in about 25% of the funds lawmakers expected when they passed it in 2004.
That will be true of most of these excise taxes and fees.