Of the many baffling remarks Donald Trump made in his New York Times interview published Wednesday, one quote in particular is now making the rounds. It seems to confirm just how little the president understands about the way American health insurance works and how much it costs. Speaking to the Times‘ Maggie Haberman, Trump had his ultimate Lucille Bluth “how much could a banana cost?” moment when discussing the subject of pre-existing conditions.
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.
The Washington Post subsequently delved into the president’s comments in an attempt to figure out just what the heck he was actually talking about. As a result, they dug up another interview Trump gave to The Economist back in May, which seems to clarify what he meant — even if it demonstrates that he still doesn’t really “get it.”
You’re going to have absolute guaranteed coverage. You’re going to have it if you’re a person going in … don’t forget, this was not supposed to be the way insurance works. Insurance is, you’re 20 years old, you just graduated from college, and you start paying $15 a month for the rest of your life and by the time you’re 70, and you really need it, you’re still paying the same amount and that’s really insurance.
The problem, as the Washington Post points out, is that Trump genuinely seems to be confusing life insurance, where an individual pays into their future needs, with health insurance, in which a group of people collectively pay into their future needs. Which would be fine, except that Trump also contradicts himself since this is the entire point of Obamacare, and one of his main gripes with the system is the mandate that requires everyone to sign up for health insurance (so that the healthy help cover those with pre-existing conditions). It’s what he is actively trying to banish.
So does he expect Uncle Sam to carry the rest of that financial burden, if not healthy Americans? Either way, no one is sure where he came up with that figure of $12 per year, but as the Post quips, perhaps the president “has seen too many commercials on cable news channels about having life insurance for less than the price of a cup of coffee a day.”