Is BoTAX a good idea? How will it affect the spa industry?
In case you haven’t heard, here in the U.S. the $848 billion health care ‘reform’ bill proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (Democrat from Nevada) includes a 5% tax on cosmetic procedures and surgery. It would go into effect in January. It has been dubbed “the Botax,” which, for those who have been living under a rock in the past few years, is a nod to the popular Botox cosmetic injection which smooths facial wrinkles. And yes, I do know of what I speak.
Well, let’s think this through. Predictably, the plastic surgeons are calling foul and coming back with arguments saying that many people get Botox to keep them competitive in the marketplace, that it is unfair to baby boomers, and that their cosmetic surgery businesses have already suffered because of the recession. Well, I doubt they will get much sympathy – except from fellow plastic surgeons and the users of Botox and elective plastic surgery procedures. I hear no violins from any other arena.
There will of course be consequences down the road, which I think are worth having a conversation about. The way I see it, there will be some positives and some negatives for the spa industry. Some of these may differ if we are talking about medical spas or regular spas.
On the positive side, the reform would be another reason for people to put more emphasis on prevention rather than fixing things after they are broken. Staying out of the sun and wearing sunscreen take care of many of the wrinkles people are currently treating with fillers and Botox. Staying healthy and toned through exercise and good eating habits as well as encouraging self esteem through good parenting and personal efforts could possibly reduce the amount of plastic surgery requested.
Another consequence will likely be an increase in medical tourism – outbound from the U.S. to other countries. While there are already many who go to other countries for medical reasons (Mexico for dental, India for joint replacements, Thailand for face lifts, etc.) this tax would be one more reason for people to venture across borders for medical procedures.
On the negative side is the somewhat frightening concern of “what’s next?” Will taxing facials be next? Massage? Manicures and pedicures? There are those who would argue these are also elective procedures and should be taxed. Ouch…that would be scary. And what does this say about our government in general in terms of taking over more and more control of our lives?
Well, unless I learn more than I currently know about this issue (which is entirely possible given the complexity of all things health care), I have decided to do something I wish more people would do. Sacrifice. It might not be best for me personally, and it might not be best for the industry I work in but I am not going to squabble over this 5% tax.
The reason? I am tired of seeing the fighting in Washington by the “special interest groups” who lobby to protect their particular marbles in the game. That includes medical doctors – especially the specialists – who want to protect the huge amount of money they make (compared with doctors in every other country), insurance companies who focus on making huge profits and give multi-million dollar bonuses to their CEO’s, and pharmaceutical companies who would rather spend billions on TV ads and charge consumers high prices for drugs which would otherwise be much cheaper.
In order to improve the health care system in this country and possibly begin building one that is superior to any other, it seems reasonable that everyone needs to give in a bit (and in some cases more than just a bit). If I end up paying a tax on Botox and the spa and wellness industry needs to contribute in this way as well – I would be embarrassed to argue otherwise.
Now if we end up on a slippery slope and find ourselves making sacrifices while others do not…well, you’ll hear from me again. Just don’t count on seeing the distress on my face. :)
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