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The President’s Understanding of Insurance

From a recent sit-down with the NYT:

TRUMP: 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.

I fear that even the most academic response to this quote is:  WTF?

If one reads the context of the quote his is clearly talking about the entire repeal and replace debate.

He seems to be describing simple life insurance, not health insurance.

He made a similar statement to 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.

These type of statements seem to confirm that he does not have any idea what he is talking about, and therefore it is impossible to take him seriously on this topic.

The best theory I have seen is that he is basing this on a commercial for life insurance for babies that airs on FNC: Did Trump’s bizarre idea that health insurance costs $12 a year come from this Fox News commercial?

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Scott says:

    During this whole health insurance debate, Trump has not utter one word concerning the contents of any of the bills nor answered any questions. Even during his WH meeting with all the Republican senators did he even provide any clue that he understood any of the issues.

    At some point, he will be just ignored by the Republicans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  2. alanstorm says:

    Your post would have much more effect were any of the O-care supporting “liberals” to demonstrate any concept of how insurance works.

    Sadly, they have not, and are not likely to do so for the foreseeable future.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 22

  3. Kylopod says:

    @alanstorm:

    Your post would have much more effect were any of the O-care supporting “liberals” to demonstrate any concept of how insurance works.

    Please point me to a specific statement by Obama saying anything about health insurance anywhere near as ignorant as the above statement by Trump.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  4. @alanstorm: So, you think that health insurance costs $12/year?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  5. Side observation: I don’t think there has been one post of mine criticizing the president wherein a supporter actually had a defense against the critique.

    Instead, it is always: yeah, but liberals (or Clinton or Obama, etc).

    These are bankrupt responses.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 0

  6. CSK says:

    @alanstorm:

    Whatever your political position is, Trump’s comment was gabble. It didn’t even make sense syntactically, never mind in any other way. Compared to Trump, Sarah Palin was Thucydides.

    If you’re going to support Trump, you’ll have to come up with much better arguments.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  7. al-Ameda says:

    @alanstorm:
    Your post would have much more effect were any of the O-care supporting “liberals” to demonstrate any concept of how insurance works.
    I’ll put you down for, “Yes, this president does not understand insurance”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  8. michael reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Same on twitter. The Trumpkin responses are:

    1) What about Hillary?
    2) What about Obama being a Muslim terrorist?
    3) MAGA!
    4) Fake news!
    5) Cuck!

    The cleverer ones try to tell me I must be a leech on society who contributes nothing and lives off the gubmint. This, by the way, despite the ‘blue check’ verifying my identity, and the brief bio that lists me as a “NYT bestselling author” living in Marin County.

    I’ve met precisely one Trumpkin who struck me as coming from the right half of the IQ bell curve. They’re the stupidest bunch of people alive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  9. Mister Bluster says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:..or conclusion collusion…illusion delusion. heavy stuff

    (gotta luv how after she notes collusion she says “we don’t have that YET”)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. gVOR08 says:

    Here is the standard FTFY comment:

    These type of statements seem to confirm that he does not have any idea what he is talking about, and therefore it is impossible to take him seriously on this topic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. @gVOR08: I almost appended “Yes, I know” to that sentence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @alanstorm: Your assertion is demonstrably false. https://www.balloon-juice.com/category/mayhew-on-insurance/ for starters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  13. Gustopher says:

    While he clearly doesn’t understand the structure of health insurance, I’m willing to give him a pass on the $12/year — a random, precise, completely out of range number could well just be a rhetorical flourish — an estimate with far more precision than accuracy, exaggerated for effect. He probably just means “dirt cheap”.

    I picked up a similar habit from somewhere, and I lived in NYC for over a decade. Weird local vernacular, perhaps? (I don’t say bigly or big league, though)

    His lack of understanding about how health insurance works is more troubling. And the fact that he is referring to something that costs the average family a significant chunk of their income as dirt cheap shows he has no understanding of the pressures normal people have to live with.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Jen says:

    He has no idea what he’s talking about, as usual.

    FWIW, when I was 22 in 1992, I had an individual policy, because as a college grad I was no longer on my parents’ insurance and the job I had at the time didn’t offer insurance. I had a pretty stripped-down policy, which excluded any treatment for my preexisting condition (migraine headaches, which likely would cause me to be turned down for an individual policy pre-Obamacare). I was paying, IIRC, around $450/mo. for that policy, which would be around $790/mo. in today’s dollars.

    Young, healthy (except for the migraines) and I paid that much.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  15. Franklin says:

    @CSK:

    Compared to Trump, Sarah Palin was Thucydides.

    I actually came here to say something to that effect. I secretly suspect the former governor may be capable of tasks such as basic arithmetic and being able to locate a word in the dictionary. I have no illusions about the President.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. bookdragon says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: This.

    My standard response to Trumpkins changing the subject with some inane “but liberals…” is that if the only defense you can think of is basically snapping your head around and yelling “SQUIRREL!” just give up. If you can’t debate better than my dog, you have no case.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  17. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @michael reynolds: Most people on Twitter probably don’t know Marin County from Cornfield County on “Hee Haw.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. Kylopod says:

    @Franklin:

    I secretly suspect the former governor may be capable of tasks such as basic arithmetic and being able to locate a word in the dictionary.

    Actually, virtually all of Trump’s proclamations on public policy are the essence of “Palin-esque.” They both just slap words together and act like they know what they’re talking about.

    If there’s a difference, it’s that Palin did not live her entire life fabulously wealthy. That’s one angle to this quote I haven’t seen people comment on here: what Trump said isn’t just ignorant, but suggests someone wildly out of touch with average Americans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0