Botax. The biggest “wrinkle” in healthcare reform.

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Although the initial threat of the “Botax”  has been shot down, we would like inject a little life back into the hot topic of taxing plastic surgery like cigarettes and liquor. The idea was originally part of President Obama’s Healthcare Reform bill, which proposed a 5% “luxury” tax on cosmetic surgery to help finance a much-needed facelift for America’s rapidly aging healthcare system. Fortunately, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), along with We The People, sold the government on the idea that there are worse things in life than the desire to be more beautiful.

Although support for this bill was rallied from the misconceptions that plastic surgery patrons are all millionaires and strippers, we know better.  The fact of the matter is that the majority of people who seek cosmetic surgery are hard-working, highly intelligent, and highly-motivated, individuals who have a wide variety of reasons for wanting to improve their physical appearance. Middle-aged men and women look to tighten up their necks and jawlines to make themselves more competitive in the white-collar workplace.  Professional sales people get Botox injections to appear more welcoming and friendly to their customers. New mothers want their pre-baby bodies back.

Let’s say you’re a beautiful and talented young woman who just graduated from college and about to go on your first job interview. Everything is set… your grades are top of the class… you’ve got fantastic references… and your brand-new suit looks amazing. So why are your nerves a wreck  and why is your eye contact so bad during the interview? Because in the back of your mind all you can think of is your nose… that “beak” you inherited from your mom… the nose that looks like it came out of the Mr. Potato Head box… the nose that everyone made fun of in junior high… the nightmare-of-a-nose that kept you from having the self-confidence to land that dream job.

Should we Bo-tax that young woman out of her right to feel better about herself?  Should we Bo-tax her because she’s probably uber wealthy and can afford it anyway?  Should we Bo-tax her because she’s a shallow and self-absorbed plastic surgery junkie? Should we assume those things about her, like the government did about the people who would be affected by the Bo-tax?

What if you were a  21-year old army recruit who shaved his head for the first time and had to listen to the “Dumbo” comments from the other guys?  Should we Bo-tax him for wanting his ears pinned back?

Or how about the 24-year old new bride who is embarrassed to wear her bikini on her honeymoon in Hawaii because her chest is as flat as her younger brother’s? Should we Bo-tax her for wanting breast implants to feel more like a woman?

Cosmetic surgery can do wonderful things for people when the problem creates real stress for the “patient”, when the intention is good, and when the price is right.  And believe it or not, this is the reality of plastic surgery all over the world.  It’s not just for the rich snobs, the stuck-up socialites, and the over-the-top strippers.  It’s for anyone who simply wants to feel better about themselves, whatever the reason may be.  Beauty is truly  in the eye of the beholder, and the most important set of eyes you need to please is your own. Feeling good about yourself is a powerful and healthy thing- no matter which way you go about it.

Are we helping society as a whole by limiting people’s ability to improve their self-esteem with the Bo-tax?  Or would it make more sense to limit people’s ability to smoke themselves toward lung cancer?  Or to limit their ability to chow down on burgers and soda every day to cut down on diabetes, heart disease?

Should we tax the people who are embarrassed by their big ears, huge noses, and flat chests to help pay the hospital bills for the ever-expanding (pun intended) 60% of our population that is obese?

If President Obama asked this question to the CEO of McDonald’s, I wonder what his answer would be?  Whatever it was, it must have been good because as far as I can tell, there’s no 5% penalty tax on the 800-calorie Big Mac.

And interestingly enough, recent reports said that several US Military hospitals conveniently lost the records for cosmetic surgeries that were paid for by the pentagon… hmmm, I wonder if Mr. President paid his Bo-tax?

Hopefully it will remain as much of a distant memory as Heidi Mnotag’s, well, everything!

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