It's Unclear If Donald Trump Knows How Health Insurance Works

July 20th 2017

Kyle Jaeger

President Donald Trump appears to believe that young people can purchase health insurance for $12 per year, seeming to confuse it with life insurance.


That takeaway comes from an extensive interview the U.S. president gave to The New York Times, a partial transcript of which was published Wednesday. While discussing how entitlements included in Obamacare are hard to repeal and replace, Trump said this:

"But what it does, Maggie, it means it gets tougher and tougher. As they get something, it gets tougher. Because politically, you can’t give it away. So pre-existing conditions are a tough deal. Because you are basically saying from the moment 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. Here’s something where you walk up and say, “I want my insurance.” It’s a very tough deal, but it is something that we’re doing a good job of."

As Vox's Sarah Kliff noted, there's no such thing as a $12 per year health insurance plan. What the president described more closely resembles life insurance policies that are commonly advertised on television.


Dr. Gerald Kominski, director of UCLA's Center for Health Policy Research, agrees that president appears deeply confused.

"I find it deeply disturbing that the president seems to be getting his information about health insurance and our vastly complex health system from TV commercials advertising life insurance benefits," Kominski told ATTN:. "The citizens of this great nation deserve better."

Trump's apparent unfamiliarity with health insurance, despite his trying to pass health care reform, is telling.

The average monthly premium for a health insurance plan on the individual market ranges from about $150 to $470, depending on the state, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

While efforts to repeal and/or replace Obamacare have stalled in Congress, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released an analysis of the Senate's latest plan that offers some insight into what the potential impact on health insurance costs might be if Republicans get their way. It found that an estimated 22 people would lose insurance over the next 10 years, the federal deficit would decrease by $420 billion, and premiums would decrease at the same time that deductibles increased.

It's not clear how much premiums would decrease by, but no one believes that $12 per year is possible in the 21st century.