Jeb Bush: Repeal Obamacare and buy an Apple Watch

Jeb Bush has had plenty of time to study for his presidential run, but something tells me he hasn’t done his homework.

It’s been a rough week for Jeb. After running through four answers in four days on the most obvious question he should have seen coming — Knowing what we know now, would you have invaded Iraq? — and accidentally announcing his candidacy prematurely, he’s probably ready to exit the news cycle for a few days and regroup.

It doesn’t look like that’s about to happen. Yesterday, speaking to a group of supporters in Arizona, Bush went off on a tangent when discussing his desire to repeal Obamacare to extol the wonders — real and imagined — of his Apple Watch.

Here’s the video:

As Vox’s Sarah Kliff noted, it doesn’t sound like Bush is literally saying that he would replace Obamacare with Apple Watches, as some have suggested. He said we should repeal Obamacare, someone pointed out his Apple Watch, and then he talked about how much better the market is in producing products than the government. Here’s the relevant text of what Jeb said from that video:

I think we should repeal Obamacare, given the opportunity, and replace it…with a consumer-directed model where people are engaged in making health care decisions for themselves and where they’re given the tools to do so. And here’s the deal: If we get that right, we’re on the verge… [man points out Apple Watch]

…On this device, in five years, will be applications that will allow me to manage my healthcare in ways that five years ago were not even possible. I’ll have the ability; someone will, because of my blood sugar…someone will send me a signal…I’ll get a double-beep saying “You just ate a butterscotch sundae” or something like that…”You’re diabetic, you can’t do that.” We’ll be able to guide our own healthcare decisions in a way that will make us healthy. And ultimately, we have to get to a health system, away from a disease system.

But in this case, context doesn’t get Bush off the hook. What he’s saying there is arguably worse than it would have been if he had actually said that we should replace Obamacare with Apple Watches. Rather than saying that technology can get us better health insurance, Bush seems to have failed to make the distinction between health insurance and health care in the first place.

Jeb Bush, original photo via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Jeb Bush, original photo via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Obamacare and Apple Watches are perfectly compatible. If your watch can tell you that you need to go to the doctor, then great! Go to the doctor. But don’t expect your watch to pay for your care once you get there. You need insurance for that. As Kliff pointed out, “The vision that Bush outlines isn’t one where the Apple Watch replaces Obamacare. It’s one where the Apple Watch relies on Obamacare existing to empower consumers in the first place.”

And of course, if you can afford an Apple Watch, chances are you can afford health insurance.

But that’s more or less the problem, isn’t it? Jeb Bush, along with the rest of the Republican field, have no answer for how to cover the nearly 17 million Americans who wouldn’t be able to afford health insurance if Obamacare was repealed.

Americans like Luis Lang, the self-employed handyman who refused to purchase health insurance under Obamacare because he thought he’d be able to get care in case of an emergency. And when that emergency did come — Lang suffered multiple strokes and now needs surgery to keep from going blind — he found out that, in fact, health care is super expensive. He’s now relying on a crowdfunding effort — led primarily by liberals who are taking the opportunity to say “we told you so” — to raise money for surgery that could cost him up to $30,000 out of pocket.

He can’t afford an Apple Watch, and he can’t afford to not have insurance. What’s Jeb Bush’s plan for him?


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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