POLITICS
07/20/2017 03:17 am ET Updated Jul 20, 2017

Trump Doesn't Seem To Know What Health Insurance Is, How It Works Or What It Costs

The president suggested it costs $12 a year.

President Donald Trump’s interview with The New York Times generated plenty of headline-making comments. But his remarks on health insurance, the biggest topic of the week, suggested he didn’t know how it works or how much it costs.

He 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.” 

The notion of paying $12 a year for health insurance is even less than the $15 per month number Trump floated in an interview with the Economist earlier this year.

“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,” he said in the May interview. 

The average premium for a single person who gets health benefits from an employer last year was $536 a month, with employees paying an average of 18 percent of the cost while employers pick up the rest, according to data from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Education Trust.

Prices are different in the market for people who don’t get health benefits from an employer or a government program ― including those who purchase policies directly, through a broker or a health insurance exchange. For consumers in this health insurance market, the average monthly unsubsidized premium a mid-level “Silver” plan ranges from $364.91 for a 30-year-old to $872.01 for a 60-year-old, according to data compiled by HealthPocket.

All of those numbers, of course, are significantly higher than either figure suggested by the president. This prompted a number of observers to wonder if Trump was confusing health insurance with the life insurance ads that air in heavy rotation on cable news. 

This article has been updated with additional data on average health insurance costs. Jeffrey Young contributed reporting.

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