Health and Science

Trump tweets that 'everybody' has better health care than US because Obamacare is so bad

Key Points
  • Trump has praised a country with universal health care.
  • His praise comes even as he pushes a bill that would scale back U.S. funding of health care.
  • Left-wing Sen. Bernie Sanders seized on Trump's comments to tout a single-payer system in the U.S.
Trump: Australia has 'better health care than we do'

President Donald Trump suggested Friday that Obamacare is so awful that it has left the United States with the absolute worst health-care system in the entire world.

"Of course the Australians have better healthcare than we do — everybody does," Trump tweeted on a rainy afternoon in New Jersey, where he is staying at his mansion there.

"ObamaCare is dead," the president continued. "But our healthcare will soon be great."

@realDonaldTrump Of course the Australians have better healthcare than we do --everybody does. ObamaCare is dead! But our healthcare will soon be great.

While America's health-care system has many problems, no serious analyst has suggested it is the worst in the world.

Trump's tweet came less than 24 hours after he dropped jaws — yet again — during an event in New York City with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, where he told Turnbull, "You have better health care than we do."

That comment was surprising for several reasons.

One is that Australia has a universal health-care system. The government there pays the lions' share of health costs. Individuals, particularly people with higher incomes, can also buy private insurance.

The United States does not have a universal health-care system. And Republicans in Congress and elsewhere are adamantly against a government-run health-care system for everyone.

In fact, the Obamacare replacement bill approved by the GOP majority in the House on Thursday — hours before Trump's meeting with Turnbull — would scale back federal spending on health coverage from what is being spent under the Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist from Vermont, burst out laughing on Thursday night as he watched Trump praise Australia's health-care system.

"Wait a minute!" Sanders chuckled during his appearance on "All in with Chris Hayes" on MSNBC.

"The president has just said it, that's great," Sanders said. "Let's take a look at the Australian health-care system, and let's move — maybe he wants to take look at the Canadian health-care system, or systems throughout Europe. Thank you, Mr. President. Let us move to a Medicare-for-all system that does what every other major country on Earth does: guarantee health care to all people at a fraction to what we spend."

While more than 130 million Americans are enrolled in some form of government coverage, such as Medicare and Medicaid, the majority of non-elderly people get private health insurance through a job.

Fewer than 12 million people are currently enrolled in Obamacare plans sold on government marketplaces, and several million more buy individual health plans sold outside of those exchanges.

Another 10 million or so have gained health coverage through Medicaid as a result of Obamacare rules that allowed more poor adults to sign up. Fewer than 10 percent of Americans, or about 23 million people, lack insurance — a historically low figure that occurred because of Obamacare.

So the total number of people enrolled in health coverage as a result of Obamacare — and subject to price increases related to their places — is quite small relative to the total number of people with insurance nationally.

The United States for years has received bad grades for its health-care system relative to other wealthy industrialized countries. But the problems predate Obamacare.

The Commonwealth Fund, in a series of annual reports dating back more than 15 years, has found that Americans pay much more than people in other wealthy Western countries, but get far less back in terms of terms of results.

"In comparison to adults in the other 10 countries, adults in the United States are sicker and more economically disadvantaged," the latest Commonwealth Fund report comparing the countries found last November.

"The U.S. spends more on health care than any other country, but what we get for these significant resources falls short in terms of access to care, affordability, and coordination," said Commonwealth Fund President Dr. David Blumenthal.

The report noted that, "the major coverage expansions of the [Obamacare] law were launched only in 2014 and are thus still in a ramping-up period."

"In addition, there are ongoing barriers to coverage, including the fact that — as of November 2016 — 19 states have not chosen to expand eligibility for their Medicaid programs, the exclusion of undocumented immigrants from both Marketplace and Medicaid coverage, low awareness of coverage options, and concerns about affordability among those who remain uninsured."

However, things could shift if Trump's health-care bill is signed into law. Under an earlier version of the GOP's Obamacare replacement bill, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget office predicted that 24 million more Americans would be uninsured by the year 2026 than would be the case under the ACA.

The version of the American Health Care Act that passed the House on Thursday contained several amendments that could impact that forecast, but it has not yet been evaluated by the CBO.