You can keep your doctor, or you can keep your iPhone
A leading Republican congressman suggested on Tuesday that lower-income Americans stop buying new iPhones and “invest in their own health care.” The comment by Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah came a day after the GOP rolled out a new Obamacare replacement bill that could increase their insurance costs.
The bill also contains a big new financial treat for health insurance companies.
The Republican plan calls for allowing insurers to write off as a business expense the entire amount of their executives’ salaries on their taxes, and not just the first $500,000, as is the case now under the Affordable Care Act.
Even ignoring the outrage of proposing a tax cut for people making more than $500,000/year at the expense of benefits for poor people, this quote demonstrates 19th-century economic thinking. iPhone sales are mostly a value transference business, and to the extent that production of additional iPhones creates jobs, it creates them in China. So if people stopped buying iPhones, it wouldn’t free up any resources in the United States that could then be directed towards healthcare.
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Magnavox says: “the amount of waste in the US health care industry completely dwarfs the amount spent on iphones by all classes”
mikeca says: “Most of the self employed working class people that I know do not have smart phones. They have old flip phones which you can get for almost free with a wireless plan. Even if they were buying a brand new $800 iPhone every year (which they are not), you are not going to get health insurance that covers anything for $800 a year.”
I say: I personally need to have an iPhone if I ever plan on going back to work in digital product management, since how could I manage products for mobile devices if I don’t even use a smartphone?
I also say: Having a phone of some sort is a necessity to be part of our society (although it doesn’t need to be the latest and most expensive iPhone). Most employers expect you to have a phone, for example. Most people who need to save money have just have a cell phone and not a landline. Poor people are more likely to own Androids which are cheaper, so they are already not buying the most expensive phones. There are many cheap-ass Androids for under $100 (although they probably suck compared to iPhone).
A new iPhone SE is $399, and that’s still less expensive than a single month of health insurance for a single person.
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There’s the point of view that the Congressman’s statement was merely a metaphor for poor people foolishly spending their money. Nevertheless, this was obviously a huge gaffe on the part of the Congressman. Way bigger than Mitt Romney’s 47% gaffe. So huge that it jeopardizes the chances that Republicans will have the political support to repeal Obamacare (not saying that I agree with repealing Obamacare).