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By now everyone has heard of Jason Chaffetz’s claim about people needing to not buy a new iPhone when they should be saving for healthcare instead. This is a part of what is being called ‘Obamacare-light’, and has left the writers of this bill on defense. The internet erupted after the representative made that statement, criticizing republicans of oversimplifying the issue and comparing two goods that have completely different price ranges. The millennials were especially triggered.
A big part of repealing and replacing Obamacare is accommodating for the ‘26 rule’, or letting kids stay on their parent’s healthcare until their 26th birthday. As millennials come of age in this political climate, health care will increasingly become a bigger issue for them. The problem is, none of them care enough to save for healthcare.
First off, millennials never learned to budget properly. It has been increasingly apparent that there is a lack of ‘real world’ training in our education system. Millennials were never taught how to budget, just like they were never taught how to file their taxes or build their credit—all things they are slowly needing to learn how to do on their own. Of course, this is not true for every single iPhone toting millennial, but for the generation as a whole, saving for healthcare isn’t a priority for them because they flat out don’t know how. The whole idea of waiting until you are 26 to start thinking about healthcare automatically pushes the idea of saving for healthcare to the back of your mind up until that point. Finally, millennials don’t have a memory of what healthcare was like before Obamacare. Even if they did, they were so young there was no way they were thinking about budgeting for healthcare as a toddler. As they have finally reached the point where healthcare is more of a present need, they are now having to contemplate saving for something that doesn’t give them instant gratification—completely against the nature of a millennial.
All this being said, the iPhone comment was a bit of a hasty generalization. It is not literally the decision between a new phone and putting money away for healthcare. It is the idea that millennials are now realizing that they need to have individual responsibility to budget wisely. I believe that fiscal responsibility is something that simply does not exist in my generation, and this is the inherent problem with trying to get young people to save for something like healthcare. Healthcare is crazy expensive, for multiple political reasons and economic reasons, and the newly proposed bill deals with some of this problem but not all. Clearly Obamacare was flawed, and so is this new bill. What is important is to use this as a wake up call to millennials. Individual choices affect the goods you can have in your life.
I am also not here to say that young people should be forced to save money for healthcare. I think that people should prioritize what kind of goods they want in life—be it an iPhone, or not—and should be able to have enough individual control to save for their priorities. Though it can be said that millennials need to prioritize healthcare more. This is also not to say that anyone needs to save money for healthcare before providing the basic needs of life for themselves. No one should be entitled to free healthcare when they can spend money on an iPhone. Millennials should not be forced to save for healthcare, but maybe they should do it anyway on their own.