Trump’s poor grasp of health care policy was on full display in Iowa

"I hear it's like record business that they're doing."


During a roundtable event on workforce development in Iowa on Thursday, President Trump touted association health care plans.

“[Secretary of Labor] Alex Acosta has come up with incredible health care plans through the Department of Labor, association plans, where you associate, where you have groups, and you go out and get tremendous health care at a very small cost,” Trump said. “It is across state lines. You can compete all over the country, they compete, they want to get it.”

“And Alex, I hear it’s like record business that they’re doing,” Trump continued. “We just opened about two months ago and I’m hearing that the numbers are incredible, the numbers of people that are getting really, really good health care, instead of Obamacare, which is a disaster.”

There’s just one problem — association health plans won’t even be available until September 1 at the earliest, so Trump’s claim about “record business” is a complete fabrication. The White House announced the creation of such plans on June 19.


After bragging about sales figures for unavailable association plans, Trump claimed Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar “is doing a different form of health care that’s turning out to be incredible.”

It’s unclear what exactly Trump was referring to. But this summer he’s repeatedly touted the imminent unveiling of mysterious health care proposals that never end up being announced.

Although association health plans will make it easier for small companies and independent business owners to band together to purchase insurance, they are exempt from key protections in the Affordable Care Act, such as the requirement that all plans cover mental health and emergency services.


As the New York Times puts it, the availability of such plans could “draw healthy people out of the Affordable Care Act marketplace, driving up costs for those who need comprehensive insurance.” Trump, however, has repeatedly insisted association plans will provide “tremendous health care.”

When Trump has tried to discuss association plans in detail, it hasn’t gone well.

“We just got association health care approved. So it will be incredible,” Trump said at a roundtable event in Duluth, Minnesota last month. “You associate as companies and as people, you will get great health care at a much lower price than you have been paying.”

Trump has struggled to discuss health care policy in general. During an interview last summer, he indicated he thinks health insurance plans can be purchased for $12 a year.

The average American spends close to $10,000 a year on health care.