A Hays woman’s response to a congressman’s comments about health care costs is going viral.
On March 7, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said on CNN that low-income Americans had to make choices when it came to paying for their health care.
“Americans have choices, and they’ve got to make a choice. So 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 told CNN.
Vera Haynes didn’t appreciate the congressman’s comments.
“There have been so many comments in the past few years in the debates about health care that show the people who are legislating don’t understand what it means to have a chronic health condition,” she said.
“I have Type 1 diabetes, and I know what those medical bills look like, and I know what my costs are,” she said.
So she decided to clarify those costs for the congressman by showing, rather than telling. She created a graphic showing the 36.5 iPhones it would cost per year to equal medical supplies for Type 1 Diabetes.
She posted it March 9 to her Facebook page, making it public, and added graphics for asthma (5 iPhones), breast cancer (80.9), HIV medications (35.6), Lupus (20) and other conditions.
Haynes, who is young adult librarian at Hays Public Library, made sure to document her research in her graphic as well.
“I really tried to make sure every cost I used was a peer-reviewed study or government document so it would be totally factual,” she said.
Within 24 hours, her post was shared 150 times.
“I thought that was crazy, that was absolutely insane. I was freaking out about it,” she said.
This week, she was contacted by editors at The Mighty, a website that offers a platform for those facing chronic diseases and disabilities to tell their stories. They made a video slideshow of her graphics and posted it to their Facebook page Wednesday.
“I was really, really excited,” Haynes said. “I was so thrilled this information would have the opportunity to reach more people.”
As of Thursday afternoon, it had 37,000 views on Facebook.
So @TheMightySite turned my article into a video and it's at 30k views. I'm sobbing on my lunch break.— Vera Haynes (@AVeraHaynes) March 16, 2017
“So @TheMightSite turned my article into a video and it’s at 30K views,” Haynes tweeted Thursday. “I’m sobbing on my lunch break.”
Haynes said her creation has gotten mostly positive response.
“People are real excited to see someone acknowledging the cost, and a lot of people have been saying it’s a more physical way to understand the cost. Saying it costs $20,000 a year might not mean anything to someone, but to say it costs 33 iPhones a year, that’s a little more tangible,” she said.
Most of the negative response has been from people saying her figures are too low, but Haynes acknowledges that. The studies she cited used older data, plus individual cases will have different expenses, she said.
“I really hope my graphics can speak for themselves. The numbers are different now but even larger,” she said.
While she has gotten plenty of response from people, Haynes said there is one person she has yet to hear from.
"I'm really hopeful that Jason Chaffetz sees that at some point. I tried tagging him in everything I've done. No response yet," she said.