After the Senate's bill to repeal Obamacare died for perhaps the final time this week, political observers noted that President Trump was strangely disconnected from the process. He didn't do much to whip votes in Congress, or use his sizable social-media bully pulpit to sell the plan to the American people. When the bill failed, he changed positions four times in one week about what to do next, at one time advocating a straight repeal that would kick 32 million people off the insurance rolls.
A possible reason for this opacity has presented itself: The president might not know what health insurance costs — or even what it is.
An interview with the New York Times published yesterday — already wave-making for the president's intimations that he might fire special counsel Robert Mueller — included this Trump health insurance quip: “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.”
That's not a typo: He said $12 dollars a year.
HuffPost points out that the president seems to believe the cost of insurance has actually gone down — he cited $15 a year in a May interview with the Economist: “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.
The actual average premium for a single person is $538 a month, with employees paying about 18 percent and the employer picking up the rest, according to the Kaiser Foundation. The average price for a silver plan on the Obamacare exchanges range from $364.91 for a 30 year old to $872.01 for a 60 year old.
Twitter quickly developed a working theory: That the president has confused health insurance with the life insurance advertised heavily in TV commercials, which often offer monthly premiums under $20.
Does Donald Trump think that health insurance works like a 401k? Or life insurance? Or that anyone is paying $12/month for it? pic.twitter.com/X9NAHkL1f9— Molly Lamping Fleck (@mollyfleck) July 20, 2017
Even when Reagan was senile, I think he knew the difference between life insurance and health insurance. I don't think Trump does.— Micke S (@fawlty) July 20, 2017
This has happened a few times before: Trump doesn't seem to understand the difference between health insurance & life insurance. https://t.co/WLgKtjlNWr— David Lauter (@DavidLauter) July 20, 2017
Trump thinks Fox-advertised term life insurance is what the ACA is all about: doesn't know what health insurance is https://t.co/btZCWVJUyJ— Thom Hartmann (@Thom_Hartmann) July 20, 2017
Trump believes that health insurance = those life insurance plans Gerber sells on late night TV. $1 a month gets you lifetime covfefe. pic.twitter.com/w3HL6lVsDc— emigre80 (@emigre80) July 20, 2017
One Twitter user summed it up:
Trump confusing health insurance to the scammy term life insurance commercials he sees on Fox is pretty peak-2017 https://t.co/uD2XLaAJBq— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) July 20, 2017