Jeb Bush caused a bit of a stir
last week, telling an audience that he intends to destroy the Affordable Care Act, replacing it with a "consumer-driven" system, part of which includes his new Apple Watch.
"On this device in five years will be applications that will allow me to manage my health care in ways that five years ago were not even possible," he said. "I'll have the ability, someone will, you know, because of my blood sugar, there'll be a wireless, there'll be, someone will send me a signal.... We'll be able to guide our own health care decisions in a way that will make us healthy."
"We're on the verge of a revolution in this regard, where we'll be able to know all sorts of things with, you know, devices like this. I got beat up by the left because I showed my, you know, Apple Phone -- this device will have the ability to measure your sugar content, to measure your heartbeat, to measure whether you're taking your drugs in the proper way. And you'll be able to wirelessly send text messages to your health care provider or to your loved one, or whatever, so that you can get back on track."
It seems the former governor isn't entirely clear on why he "got beat up."
The point isn't that wearable tech is irrelevant (he said "phone" yesterday, but I assume he meant "watch"). It's easy to imagine devices that can help people manage chronic conditions like diabetes. Indeed, the Florida Republican makes it sound as if these advancements are on the horizon, but in many instances, the technology already exists.
That's not the problem. Rather, the area of concern is that Bush intends to scrap the Affordable Care Act
, which would eliminate health security for millions of families, and he included a wrist gadget as part of his vision for a replacement system. Sarah Kliff added
Bush endorses the idea of "someone" sending him a signal on his Apple Watch when his blood sugar is low. I like that idea, too! It would help diabetic patients, like Bush, better manage their care. But here's the challenge: there is not some army of benevolent people out there monitoring blood sugar. There are health-care providers who do this, and to get signed up for their blood sugar monitoring programs, you typically need health insurance. In this way, the type of consumer-powered health market that Bush describes is one that relies on Americans having access to health services -- and using that access to make better decisions about their health care.
Jeb Bush didn't get "beat up" because he pointed to his fancy gizmo; he got "beat up" because he pointed to his fancy gizmo while making the case against the existing U.S. health care system.