On Wednesday Donald Trump took the Republican conversation on healthcare to a whole new level of stupid. From his remarks it is clear that he not only doesn't realize how much health insurance costs, he also seems to think that young people never get life threatening illnesses. No, instead he thinks they pay into some sort of insurance fund that will be there waiting for them when they get old.
Trump made his remarks during his interview with The New York Times. That conversation started out with a discussion of healthcare, and the fact that some Republicans are uncomfortable about taking insurance away from the people who can now get it, thanks to Obamacare. When reporter Maggie Haberman noted that once an "entitlement" has been granted, it is hard to take it back. Trump replied with this word salad:
"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.
There's not a lot you can take out of that, except for the fact that 1) he doesn't seem to realize that 70-year-olds don't need much in the way of private insurance thanks to Medicare, and 2) he seems to think health insurance is dirt cheap if you buy it when you are young.
The entire comment is one big WTF moment. After months of telling the public that premiums are too high thanks to Obamacare, he just told Haberman and her colleagues Peter Baker and Michael S. Schmidt that young people can get insurance for little more than the cost of a Snickers bar.
And this wasn't one of those "Trump off the cuff" remarks he has become famous for, literally making up shit as he goes along. No, he seems to truly believe that insurance is just that cheap, and that it works in a similar fashion to a "Gerber Grow-up Plan" life insurance policy, because he made a similar remark in an interview with The Economist in May.
"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."
Trump is one of those fortunate few who probably doesn't have a health insurance policy on himself, since he is rich enough to be able to afford pretty much any medical treatment he would ever need. But somebody needs to fill him in on the fact that nobody gets insurance for $12 a year or $15 a month or whatever other numbers he might pull out of his ass. He should also be made aware that health insurance, just like life insurance, gets more expensive and, at least before Obamacare, harder to get as you get older. And he needs to be told that young people get serious, expensive medical conditions, too, and they can't all wait until they're 70 to get a "nice plan."
In an unintentional way, what Trump actually did was make a case for Medicare For All. If the entire population was covered under Medicare, premiums would be much cheaper, because the insurance pool would be huge. They would be higher than $12 a year or $15 a month, but they would be much lower than what they are now. If an expanded Medicare system is funded in a similar fashion to the way Medicare is currently paid for, your premium wouldn't be based on age, it would be based on how much money you make. And that "nice plan" that he thinks 70-year-olds get would be available to everybody.