Trump has no idea how much health insurance costs

Alex Brandon  AP

Alex Brandon AP

In an interview published Wednesday, President Donald Trump told The New York Times that young people pay $12 a year for health insurance. Once you get something for pre-existing conditions, etc., etc.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told attendees of a Bloomberg Government dinner on Tuesday night that a long-term commitment from the Trump administration to continue key health care subsidies for insurers is unlikely, a source with firsthand knowledge of Mulvaney's remarks told Independent Journal Review.

In their wide-ranging conversation, reporters Peter Baker, Michael Schmidt, and Maggie Haberman repeatedly used to great effect a strategy of asking open-ended questions and gently prodding the president along, breaking lots of new ground with regard to the ongoing Russian Federation investigation. "As they get something, it gets tougher. So pre-existing conditions are a tough deal". (There is no such health plan for that cheap.) What he's referring to "doing a good job of" is also unclear. Because you are basically saying from the moment of the insurance, you're 21 years old, you start working and you're paying $12 a year for insurance, and by the time you're 70, you get a nice plan.

Whether Trump believes that an insurance plan allows you to pay one dollar or fifteen dollars per month for sufficient coverage is both unclear and irrelevant. "Here's something where you walk up and say, 'I want my insurance'".

This isn't the first time Trump has so dramatically underestimated the costs of health insurance.

Most people, of course, pay significantly more, but what's notable about Trump's comment is that the description he uses in both interviews is not health insurance, but rather more like life insurance. For one, private health insurance definitely does not cost $12 per year at any age.

Earlier this summer, Trump floated another nonsensical figure for monthly health insurance costs in an interview with The Economist.

This is false. This would equate to your average 21-year-old paying about a dollar per month for health insurance. But, furthermore, the president's framing that paying just a little into the private insurance system provides some sort of bulk benefit later on in life is also a misreading of how health insurance works.

In May, House Speaker Paul Ryan said insurance could not work if healthy people had to subsidize sick people, despite the fact that healthy people subsidizing sick people is literally what health insurance is.

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