This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The GOP has now unveiled their long-awaited new healthcare bill. At its core, it removes the tax penalty for not having insurance and replaces it with a premium penalty of 30 percent if you have a lapse in coverage. It also permits insurers to charge older customers five times as much as younger customers and removes tax credits to help people pay for insurance.
For many Americans who are already struggling to pay for health care, these changes might be daunting.
But Rep. Jason Chaffetz has an answer an answer that will likely soothe absolutely no one's worries.
The day after the bill was unveiled, Chaffetz went on CNN and admitted it would hurt American's bank accounts. He said that consumers will now have to "make a choice."
"You know what?" he said, "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 it in their own health care."
This statement is hopelessly condescending.
Even if we go along with the phony premise that the typical consumer is extravagant with their phone budgetspending $700 every year on a new iPhone a half-day stay in a hospital without interventional care can cost more than three times that amount.
I learned this after my son was admitted at Intermountain Healthcare's Utah Valley Hospital. He was diagnosed for possible appendicitis and was set to have surgery before the doctors realized they'd made a mistake: My son simply had inflamed lymph nodes in the abdomen, a problem that heals on its own, without intervention. It turned out that my son was admitted to the hospital under false pretenses, was kept there for roughly 14 hours for monitoring, and was then released without receiving any interventional health care from the hospital.
Even then, we were charged $2,200. It wasn't an ER visit. It didn't require any surgery. And we were still charged $2,200. We fought the bill for months, but Intermountain Healthcare wouldn't budge.
Fortunately for us, we had great insurance and had saved money in our health savings account.
Unfortunately for us, the $2,200 charge nearly emptied that account.
I can't imagine what a five-day stay hospital with surgery would cost. Or cancer treatments. Or a lifelong illness.
And yet millions face these charges every day.
These people know that the statement from Chaffetz is hopelessly condescending. They don't spend $700 every year for the latest iPhone. They can't. All their surplus funds are likely going to healthcare, to save the lives of their loved ones.
Put simply, the problem is, that the United States spends more on healthcare than 12 other high income countries, as shown by the Commonwealth Fund. In fact, we spend nearly $3,000 more per person annually than Sweden, the next highest spender.
If Chaffetz and the GOP (and the Democrats, while we're at it) want to fix health care, they should take the best ideas from these high-income countries and implement those ideas here. Bring spending down, possibly via universal healthcare, as has been done in so many places elsewhere.
Regrettably, Chaffetz has shown he's more interested in theatrics than in fixing problems his constituents are suffering through. We need representatives who empathize with real-world problems, representatives who are invested in data-driven, compassionate reform. Because of this and so many other reasons (including his unwillingness to investigate Trump), it's time to unseat Chaffetz.
Jon Ogden is a constituent of Rep. Jason Chaffetz.