Harold Beam, MD, president of the Connecticut Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons and a member of the Connecticut State Medical Society, published an informative op-ed on plans for a cosmetic surgery tax in Connecticut. Beam’s arguments are reasoned — and he concludes that there are holes in the plan that, as they say, you could drive an 18-wheeler through. Taxing Cosmetic Surgery Will Cost More Than It Brings In Revenue:
[The Connecticut] proposal would exempt critical and reconstructive services from the cosmetic tax. Some surgeries are clearly reconstructive such as breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, repair of congenital deformities such as cleft lip and palate, or repair of wounds from skin cancers, accidents and burns. Other surgeries are usually cosmetic such as liposuction, breast augmentation, or facelifts. The problem for the tax law however is that there is a large number of procedures that are open to interpretation.
Consider a child with protruding ears. This is a congenital deformity in which the ears stick out from the head. Children are often self conscious and they get teased and bullied in school. Surgical correction or otoplasty, restores a normal appearance and facilitates normal emotional and psychological growth. Although most parents think this surgery should be covered by medical insurance it rarely is and many parents will pay out of pocket for corrective surgery. Will the Department of Revenue Services follow the policy of most insurance companies and classify this surgery as cosmetic, and therefore taxable? What will they do with the few cases that are covered by insurance? A tax selectively applied to some patients and not others based on their insurance coverage is discriminatory and therefore prohibited by both state and federal laws.