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President Trump says young people pay $12 for health insurance—here's how much it actually costs

Donald Trump
Carlos Barria | Reuters
Donald Trump

In an interview published Wednesday, President Donald Trump told The New York Times that young people pay $12 a year for health insurance. "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," he said.

It is possible that he may have misspoken and meant to say "$12 a month," since, in an interview this spring with The Economist, Trump made the same argument, only he cited a figure of "$15 a month."

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.

Regardless, it is not the norm that 21-year-olds pay that little each year, or each month, for insurance on the Obamacare market. Most Americans pay significantly more than that for health insurance, even young people.

Twenty-somethings, who generally would benefit from lower premiums should GOP repeal-and-replace efforts succeed, already pay the least. But even their costs can be considerable.

An average 21-year-old making $25,000 a year would be charged $282 per month for a silver Obamacare plan, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. However, that person would qualify for federal subsidies that would cut the amount they would personally pay by half to $142. That person could also be responsible for a four-figure deductible, which is the amount each consumer must pay out-of-pocket before coverage kicks in.

Even in the most affordable states, most 21-year-olds pay much more than $12 a month simply for their premiums. In Utah, one of the least expensive states in the nation for Obamacare coverage for young people, for example, an average 21-year-old would pay $142 a month, according to Kaiser. The cost without subsidies would be $198.

In Alaska, one of the most expensive states, a 21-year-old would pay $104, but only because subsidies would cover most of the actual cost of $707 per month.

They could also be responsible for four-figure deductibles as well as, potentially, coinsurance, co-pays and other costs.

Some pundits have speculated that perhaps Trump continues to confuse life insurance with health insurance, since premiums for the former can indeed work the way he described.

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