Specialty plastic buys cosmetic surgery

You can buy everything from a new set of lips to smaller hips now and pay later.

Except in cases where the procedure falls under corrective or restorative surgery, cosmetic procedures are not usually covered by provincial health care.

Medicard, a Toronto-based company, offers credit for patients who need help paying for cosmetic treatments, plastic surgery, laser eye surgery, hair restoration or removal, orthodontics and a host of other procedures.

In 2003, more than 17,000 credit applications were processed with Medicard, with plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures accounting for 10-15%.

The average loan is about $3,500 with 79% of its clients women.

President and chief executive Ann Kaplan says the industry is shifting, with the word Botox now as commonplace as Kleenex.

“People are not as skeptical or judgmental about it and if you don’t have the Barbie-doll look it’s acceptable,” she says.

While plastic surgery often went too far in the past, people are increasingly after a natural look, she adds, warning people to research options – and there are many of them – before getting work done.

Available online or in medical offices, the Medicard application doesn’t ask for any collateral, isn’t limited to a credit check and takes about 20 minutes for a decision to be made.

But like a lot of loan services, interest rates aren’t always as favourable as what you might get at the bank, say, for a mortgage. Rates start at 9.95% and go as high as 22.95%.

The rate of default is high and like all credit, it must be carefully managed.

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