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Dear Jason Chaffetz: This Is Why My iPhone Isn’t Going Anywhere

Dear Mr. Chaffetz,

Yesterday, while the nation was talking about the proposed replacement for the ACA and I was busy writing about the importance of “herd coverage” in health insurance, you suggested to low-income Americans that they’d might able to afford healthcare if they would only give up their new iPhones.

Now, that remark was quickly and thoroughly denounced by the DNC Chairman and the interwebs alike; Forbes has outlined exactly how many iPhones it would take to cover the cost of healthcare; and you’ve already gone back on your words. So it seems less than necessary to point out that my family’s health insurance premiums cost three and a half times the cost of our phone bill each month, or that we pay approximately another 10 brand new iPhone 7s toward our maximum out-of-pocket costs every single year; that care for my son cost nearly 5,000 brand new iPhones before he ever came home from the hospital; or that I actually received my iPhone more or less for free when we enrolled in our service plan — which happened to come with a couple hundred dollars in Costco gift cards we used to buy grocery staples since we were stretched thin by our medical bills at the time.

I think it’s more useful to consider why my iPhone is a necessity. Here are some of the many ways it’s essential to the health and well being of my family:

It’s my primary, and in some cases only, means of communication with a small army of healthcare professionals.

In the year after my son came home from the hospital, we did not have a coordinated care team. I was responsible for communicating with a pediatrician, a medical specialist, a surgeon, a dietitian, a physical therapist, a drugstore pharmacy, a home infusion pharmacy, medical supply delivery drivers, home health nurses, endless insurance reps, medical billing services and a NICU follow-up team, none of whom communicated with each other. I spent a lot of time on my phone that year.

Now that we’ve switched to a more integrated team, I still depend on my phone for regular check-ins to manage my son’s care, to make and manage an endless string of appointments, to receive results from frequent bloodwork, to access help negotiating difficulties or unusual symptoms, to dispute improperly-processed claims, to pay bills, and to notify his team if it turns out we’re heading to the ER yet again. In fact, I don’t even have to identify myself when I call his specialist’s office because I speak with the administrator who answers their phones so frequently that she recognizes my voice.

It’s an immediate and ever-present source of information.

When we brought my son to the ER presenting with alarming neurological symptoms that are apparently common among kids with his rare disease, none of the staff in the entire emergency department were familiar with what was happening to him. You know who was? The parents in my diagnosis-specific Facebook group, and Dr. Google.

Some of my best friends live in my phone.

When my son was in the NICU, I essentially lived in the hospital for four and a half months. My phone became my lifeline to the outside world and my primary means of keeping friends and family updated.

During that time, I also solidified enduring online friendships with some amazing women who became an around-the-clock refuge during some of the lowest points in my life. Times when I struggled mentally and emotionally, when I felt like I was drowning, when even a trip to a therapist had failed miserably – the friends in my phone kept me sane and gave me the strength to persevere.

It’s the best way to keep a squirmy toddler still during uncomfortable procedures.

Side-eye all you want — if you had to perform a sterile dressing change in your living room on a small child who hates medical tape and doesn’t like to be held down, you’d probably be downloading the YouTube Kids app, too. “Ryan’s Toy Review” has saved us from contamination on more than one occasion (and how many iPhones do you think it costs to treat sepsis?).

All things considered, I’d say the $57.49 per month I pay for my phone service seems like a pretty damn good investment.

Tell me, Mr. Chaffetz, when will you be making the choice between your taxpayer-subsidized healthcare coverage and your phone?

Editor’s note: This story reflects an individual’s experience and is not an endorsement from The Mighty. We believe in sharing a variety of perspectives from our community.

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Photo source: CNN video