Trump Just Revealed That He Has No Idea How Much You Pay for Health Insurance

Trump Thinks Health Insurance Costs About As Much As A Meal At Denny’s

Three New York Times reporters sat down with Donald Trump in the Oval Office for a wide-ranging interview, Wednesday. Several aspects of the interview were making the rounds Thursday because, during the interview, Trump warned Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller not to look into his family’s finances. He also took potshots at Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Related: Mueller Ignores POTUS Intimidation, Expands Russia Probe to Trump Businesses

But one thing that jumped out, which should really hammer home how out of touch with the average American Trump really is, was his view on how Americans pay for health insurance. While talking about the difficulty of passing major health reform legislation and how unfair the media is to him because he hasn’t been in office that long, Trump said,

“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.”

In general, this paragraph of speech quoted by the Times doesn’t make any sense. He goes on tangents so much that it’s not clear what the topic of his sentence is by the time his syntax crashes into a period. Incidentally, this has been a hallmark of his rhetorical style since the height of the campaign.

But the real kicker in this quote is the “$12 a year for insurance” figure. Let that sink in. Trump thinks that the average 21-year-old is paying $12 a year for health insurance. Twelve dollars. A year. For health insurance.

He also seems to be implying something bizarre about how he thinks health insurance works. His speech is tough to parse, but he seems to believe that young adults pay barely anything, but then, as people get older, they “get a nice plan.” As if they’ve worked longer, so they’ve earned more insurance? Or they have more health concerns and/or they have a more lucrative career so they can afford more coverage? It’s not clear.

Furthermore, he seems to be saying that since Obamacare mandated coverage of people with preexisting conditions, now people who haven’t worked as long(?) are now demanding better coverage–possibly, even though they haven’t earned it? Again, not clear–but very strange.

This kind of thing just doesn’t exist. No one in America pays $12 a year for health insurance. Trump seems to be referring to so-called junk insurance, a plan along the lines of traveler’s insurance that would only cover something like getting run over by a bus, would only kick in after you’ve paid $500 out of pocket, and would cap you at $50,000, for example. Even before Obamacare, the insurance market was regulated well enough that those kinds of plans weren’t legal. An effort led by Senator Ted Cruz to save the Republicans’ ill-fated repeal bill reportedly would have deregulated the market to allow that kind of crap insurance. Trump is talking about it as if it not only already exists, but as if it’s standard for young adults. Which also suggests that he doesn’t even understand the basic outlines of what Senate Republicans are currently debating.

Deregulating this kind of junk insurance is a terrible idea. It would not only screw over anyone holding that kind of plan if they got sick, but it would raise costs and destabilize the market, since young healthy people would be able to opt out of paying into the pool of costs that pays for the costs of older and sicker people.

The average healthy young to middle aged adult American has employer-based healthcare. And the average employer-based healthcare cost $1,255 a year in 2015, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Broken down by state, the average ranged from $544 in Hawaii to $1,652 in Connecticut. Trump’s failure to grasp these simple numbers puts him leagues out of touch with the average American.

This is one of the most baffling things about Donald Trump’s meteoric rise to power. The American people have always rankled at a presidential candidate who couldn’t seem to relate to their pocketbook issues. In 1992, George Bush Sr. was running for reelection when he went to a supermarket, and appeared to be “amazed” at the grocery scanner. Snopes rules that this was an unfortunate misrepresentation of a short clip out of context. But the impression stuck and swaggering Bill Clinton’s ability to “feel your pain” helped him connect with voters far more than Bush. As recently as 2012, Mitt Romney told a secret conclave of millionaire donors that the 47% of Americans who don’t pay income tax don’t take any personal responsibility for themselves so he can’t expect their votes. Romney was already on the ropes, but that video was the kiss of death. There was no escaping the out-of-touch rich guy who wants to send your job to China label after that.

And yet, four years later, the American people (admittedly, with a lot of help from Russian intelligence and the Electoral College) elected a man who has no idea how much they pay for health insurance–indeed, may not even grasp the basic concept of health insurance itself. How much further removed from the daily struggle of the typical American can you get?

Featured image composite by Reverb Press; Donald Trump by Michael Reynolds/Getty Images, money, calculator courtesy of Pixabay/Public Domain.

Marc Belisle is the Reverb Press World Affairs Editor. He is a writer, activist and teacher. He has a Master's degree in International Conflict Analysis from the Brussels School of International Studies. READ MORE BY MARC.