Here’s How Many iPhones You’ll Need to Not Buy in Order to Afford Health Care
Yesterday, House Republicans released their replacement for the Affordable Care Act. And today, Representative Jason Chaffetz said that people could afford the bill’s more expensive premiums by choosing to “invest in their own health care” rather than buying the latest iPhone.
If the bill becomes law, a lot of people would get less generous subsidies to help them afford insurance. On the other hand, we would all be allowed to save more of our own money in a Health Savings Account. That’s nice, but it’s no substitute for insurance. Here’s how Chaffetz sees us coming up with the money to invest:
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.
Nevermind that smartphones are especially important for lower-income folks as a way to find jobs and do other essential tasks. Let’s say we’re all buying so many shiny new iPhones that we can forgo a few of them to afford our health care. Here’s how many you’ll need to not buy:
- Employer-provided health insurance costs 25 iPhones for the average family, although the employer pays most of that. The family is only on the hook for about seven iPhones.
- High deductible plans are common, and the average deductible for employees is two iPhones. If you have a smaller employer, you will probably pay more iPhones than that.
- If you get your insurance from the Marketplace (in other words, you have what some call an “Obamacare plan”), your out-of-pocket cost is much lower. Here’s an example for a 40-year old non-smoker who makes $30,000 a year; depending on where this person lives, their premiums could be anywhere from
three to 12 iPhones per year.
But what if you decide not to buy insurance? That would save you quite a few iPhones, and the new bill takes away the tax penalty for uninsured people. So you can “make a conscious choice,” as Chaffetz said when given an opportunity to walk back the iPhone comments, and perhaps you will choose one of the following:
- If you twist your knee in New York City and need an ACL repair surgery (as I did a few years ago), Health Care Blue Book says that a “fair” charge is 24 iPhones.
- If you decide to have a baby—or if you don’t have that choice thanks in part to the bill’s defunding Planned Parenthood—pushing it out will cost you an average of 12 iPhones. This varies by location, of course, with some San Francisco hospitals charging 38 iPhones. Oh, and this isn’t counting prenatal care, anesthesia, c-sections, or complications that you or the baby might develop.
- If, instead, you choose to have cancer, chemotherapy is also going to set you back quite a few iPhones. We’re looking at 113 to 218 iPhones for a typical course of breast cancer chemo, not counting other care or procedures you might end up needing. Or, to put it in simpler terms, a stack of iPhones two-and-a-half to five feet tall.
Since Chaffetz mentioned the “latest” iPhone, I used an estimate of $749 for a 128GB iPhone 7. If your phone of choice is cheaper, you’ll need to forgo more of it to afford health care.