Smart Phones Are A Right!

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz is in hot water for his suggestion that low-income Americans may have to prioritize purchasing health care coverage over gadgets such as iPhones under Republicans’ Obamacare replacement plan.  Here is what he said:

“Americans have choices, and they’ve got to make a choice. So rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care.”

How dare he!!  Smart phones are a right!  Not a privilege!  Start the protests.

Actually here is one Twitter comment from a NYT writer and professor Jared Yates Sexton:

What am I missing here?

Oh, and by the way, here is what President Obama said in 2014:

“I guess what I would say is if you looked at that person’s budget and you looked at their cable bill, their telephone … cell phone bill, other things that they’re spending on, it may turn out that they just haven’t prioritized health care because right now everybody is healthy,” he said.

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  10 comments for “Smart Phones Are A Right!

  1. tad hominem
    March 8, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    Doug, where have you been for the last 10 years? I am an old guy and do not have a smart phone but I have seen how they have become a necessity for the millennial and generation X population! Whether it is a student or a self-employed carpenter or a 25-year-old IT person working for a company that does not provide health insurance the smart phone has become a necessity. The analogy is ridiculous. Yes, budgeting and choice are important but this was foolish. We need to find a better spokesman than what they are giving us.

    • Doug Farrago
      March 10, 2017 at 1:47 pm

      People are missing my point. Is a smartphone a right? Why isn’t water, food, shelter? I call bullshit on that. Second, I know that health insurance is more than $75 to $100 a month for US. But let’s say that is what it would cost for a low income person. If they had to choose, which would they take? Health insurance or the phone? Yeah, you know the answer.

  2. mamadoc
    March 8, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    Utter nonsense. If this guy really thinks somebody could afford health insurance by not buying an Iphone I’d sure like to know what kind of phone he has. I’ve never in my life had an insurance premium of $50-80 a month which is what an Iphone goes for. And I paid for my Medicare, thank you very much. With every single paycheck.

    • Pat
      March 8, 2017 at 9:14 pm

      Mamadoc, respectfully, NO one has “paid for” their Medicare. Money was taken from you (and me) for a program that did not account for increasing beneficiary age (and cost), or the price inflation that the program would cause, and in a program that was actuarilly out of whack and underfunded by 1972. If Medicare benificiaries actually “paid” for their expenses, we would not have a $20 trillion debt, and our unwillingness to acknowledge this prevents any shot for real reform. The average life expectancy for the average Medicare beneficiary will by definition outstrip what they on average had contributed. Not ideology, just math.

  3. March 8, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    I still think you’re missing it. When people can’t afford what they need, they buy what they CAN afford. The cost of an iPhone (and there are lots of cheaper smartphones out there, and not everyone has an iPhone or Samsung) is less than 20% of a single monthly payment for healthcare. (FYI, I and my wife have Moto G 3rd Generations, cost about $150 each, and use Ting, where our monthly phone bill for both phones and a tablet is still around $70 combined. I’m poor, but I know how to shop.)

    • Doug Farrago
      March 8, 2017 at 4:09 pm

      I disagree. Ten years ago we all lived without smart phones and now the world is aghast that someone would say “choose”. Give me a break. And by the way, my monthly fee is $75 for all the primary care they want. Should someone pick me or their smartphone?

      • Sir Lance-a-lot
        March 8, 2017 at 8:48 pm

        Doug, I’d pick you over a smartphone.

        Heck, I’d even pick you over a tablet.

        Not sure if I’d pick you over a new MacBook, though. 🙂

  4. Sir Lance-a-lot
    March 8, 2017 at 8:11 am

    “What am I missing here?”

    Sorry, Doug, but according to what I’ve read, the “average” American pays about $3,500 a year for health insurance (I pay about half that a month, so I don’t know who those people are).

    A $600 iPhone, at about $25 a month on current plans, doesn’t even make a dent one way or the other.

    This is a red herring to keep people from seeing how many billions the insurance companies are raking in every year.

    • Pat
      March 8, 2017 at 11:18 am

      Lance, that’s an astute point, however I think Chaffetz’s larger point still has merit. We got to this awful crony-corporatist, funny-money scheme of unchecked premium/deductible increases exactly because people did not have to prioritize.

      They wanted iPhones – bought ’em- and thought health care was a right, demanding their elected rep’s to provide something they had no business being involved in. We are in this mess because the mass of the citizenry wants somethings they don’t think they should have to pay for, and now largely couldn’t if they wanted to because Uncle Sugar allowed Big Insurance to put it out of reach. This idiocy started with Medicare / Medicaid 50 years ago, Obamacare greatly accelerated it, and the ignorant greed of the average voter will not let it stop until it is full-blown nationalized care.

      • Sir Lance-a-lot
        March 8, 2017 at 8:58 pm

        You make a good point, Pat.

        Essentially, the healthcare system and the higher education system are victims of the same thing: “Free” money from the gummint going directly into “private” institutions / corporations, allowing them to spend recklessly and to raise their prices unrealistically, so that now the only way to afford the service is with the “assistance” of the selfsame gummint.

        DPC creates an oasis of financial reason within an otherwise impossibly priced system, but you’re still screwed if you need anything more than that.

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