GOP congressman says Trumpcare will force people to choose between new iPhone and health insurance

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CREDIT: CNN screengrab
CREDIT: CNN screengrab

During a Tuesday morning appearance on CNN, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) suggested that under Trumpcare, Americans will face some tough choices — like buying an iPhone or making sure they can see a doctor.

Pressed by CNN’s Alisyn Camerota about whether he’s concerned Trumpcare’s reduced tax incentives and lack of individual mandate will result in less people having insurance, Chaffetz said, “Well, we’re getting rid of the individual mandate. We’re getting rid of those things that people said that they don’t want.”

“And you know what? Americans have choices, and they’ve gotta make a choice,” he continued. “And so maybe rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care. They’ve gotta make those decisions themselves.”

The cost of a new iPhone 7 without a contract is roughly $700. By comparison, the per-capita cost of health care in the U.S. last year was $10,345. Even when insurance coverage that defrays some of that cost is factored in, Americans still spend way less on phones than they do on health care.

If too many healthy people decide to forego health care they don’t think they’ll need in favor of new phones under Trumpcare, prices will go up for those remaining in the health insurance market, creating a “death spiral.”

Ironically, Chaffetz — chair of the House oversight committee — referenced the “death spiral” phenomenon earlier in the CNN interview.

“We campaigned on this, assured the American people that if you put Republicans in charge, we would fix what is in a death spiral,” Chaffetz said.

Chaffetz — who during a different part of the interview said he plans to investigate President Trump’s (groundless) wiretapping allegations, but has not shown any willingness to investigate Trump’s shady ties with Russia — also applauded the legislative process Republicans plan to use to implement health care reform.

“Do you know what I really like about it? We’re going to do it in an open and transparent way, unlike what the Democrats did with the Affordable Care Act where they rammed it through,” Chaffetz said.

House committees are actually expected to hold votes on the two Trumpcare bills as early as Wednesday, before the Congressional Budget Office has finished its analysis of how much the bill will cost or how many people will lose insurance coverage. Millions are expected to lose coverage if Trumpcare is passed — a reality acknowledged by Chaffetz in the CNN interview.

“More access, but possibly less coverage? That might be the byproduct?” Camerota asked.

“Well, yes. I think that’s fair,” Chaffetz responded. “But we’re just now consuming this. So, more of the analysis has to happen.”

UPDATE: During a subsequent appearance on Fox News, Chaffetz acknowledged his suggestion that American forego smartphones for health insurance perhaps wasn’t the ideal message for the morning after Trumpcare’s introduction.

“Well, what we’re trying to say, and maybe I didn’t say it as smoothly as I possibly could have but, people need to make a conscious choice. And I believe in self-reliance, and they’re gonna have to make those decisions,” Chaffetz said. “We want people to have access to an affordable health care product — if they have a preexisting condition, if they’re healthy, it is smart to go do it.”

Chaffetz did acknowledge that “we want people to have their communication equipment too,” but said “as an American, you gotta make choices… and as an adult, you get to make those decisions and live by those consequences.”