In Brief
  • Utah representative Jason Chaffetz drew the ire of the
    public after he said that people with limited income should
    spend their money on health insurance instead of iPhones.
  • Smartphones allow people to access information and tools
    that can help manage their health, and they cost
    significantly less than health insurance premiums.

 The Necessity of a Smartphone

These days, given everything that a smartphone can do, it’s
hard to think of it as a luxury.

It is estimated that 88
percent
of adult Americans use the internet, with the

United Nations Human Rights Council
declaring the
internet a basic human right. People in low-income
households primary access the internet via their phones
because broadband connections or a computers are too
expensive. From their phones, people with lower
incomes have access to job sites, childcare options, and
can easily coordinate with co-workers. Even homeless people
use smartphones to find available beds in shelters.

Owning A Smartphone Isn’t Materialistic, It’s ImperativeCredit: MIKI Yoshihito

Smartphones also allow people to access information and tools
that can help them manage their health. In the case of a 2014
FCC and University of Mississippi study that gave people
suffering from chronic diabetes
access to mobile internet device
that helped keep track
of their blood sugar. The device helped 85 people in the
program to reduce hospital visits and control their disease
better. This translated to $339,184 in savings from ER
visits. Another study used mobile
phones to allow patients to monitor their
cancer
 treatments, allowing them better management
of a disease despite having limited health care options.

Given that owning a smartphone can actually be a tool that is
practical, if not life-saving, and is essential to the
modern lifestyle, it’s understandable how Utah representative

Jason Chaffetz
drew the ire of the public after he tried
to defend the House of Representative’s new health care bill
by saying that:

“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,” Chaffetz said.

More Than Luxury

The
average cost
spent for healthcare in America per person
has risen to $9,990 in 2015.

In contrast, access to the internet via a smartphone can be
obtained for as little at $35 per month. That’s $420
annually. Another option would be to purchase an unlocked
smartphone for less than $100 and connect to the internet for
free via WiFi hotspots. So the money you would spend
on a gadget and a subscription plan to the internet in
most cases would not be enough to cover a monthly
insurance premium, as Chaffetz implies. If anything, giving
up an affordable and accessible way to go online can leave
you at a significant disadvantage.

When you weigh the costs of smartphones against the access
they provide to medical tools and resources, it is easy to
see that their expense is justified. Instead of boxing in
smartphones as unnecessary luxuries, it’s high time that
we start recognizing them for their potential.


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