During the joint press conference of 3/17/17 held by President Trump and Chancellor Merkel the President said, in response to a (largely-inaudible) question from Mark Halperin, that

I was in Tennessee--we had a tremendous crowd--the other night. And... they have half the state is uncovered, the insurance companies have left. And the other half has one insurance company and that'll probably be bailing out pretty soon also.

(Q&A starts at about 10:30 in this C-SPAN video)

But Tennessee has a population of over 6M (quoth WP), so that'd be 3M uninsured Americans: a large fraction of the twenty-plus millions of Americans typically quoted as being uninsured. If over 10% of the uninsured come from a state with less than 2% the country's population, that'd be remarkable. But it seems fishy....

Does half of Tennessee not have health insurance in early 2017?

  • 1
    I think that he means that half of the places do not have an insurance company in the marketplace for those under programs of the ACA, not that half the people are uninsured (see here). It would be good if someone with a bit more insight could clarify.
    – tim
    Mar 19, 2017 at 16:33
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    We should probably stop assuming that Trump actually means what he says. In this case 'half of...' is used in common speech to mean 'a lot of...'. I know it's not behaviour we expect of a President, but it is what it is. Mar 19, 2017 at 17:19
  • @DJClayworth I'm fine with that, and if it turned out that 44% of Volunteers lacked coverage I'd never fault the President for colloquially-rounding to "one-half." But 44% would still be amazing, IMO, and I'm wondering if the number's anything like that.
    – nitsua60
    Mar 19, 2017 at 17:25
  • It turns out that, if BobT's answer is correct, even if we assume he didn't mean it literally he is still wrong. Mar 19, 2017 at 17:57
  • @DJClayworth BobT's answer only addresses geographic areas, and says nothing about population. It'd seem to me that when one mentions "half" a state one could either be talking about area or about population, so only addressing one part of that construction seems only... [forgive me] half an answer. =)
    – nitsua60
    Mar 19, 2017 at 19:40

1 Answer 1


factcheck.org investigated this and labeled it "False". Briefly-

In making his case to replace the Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump falsely claimed that in Tennessee “half of the state has no insurance company” on the ACA marketplace. In fact, all eight of the state’s rating areas have at least one carrier and three of them have two carriers.

Go to the link for a comprehensive discussion.

  • 1
    Do you have any idea what fraction of the population has health coverage? It plausibly could be the case that all eight areas offer coverage, but that many (half?) of Volunteers still don't have coverage.
    – nitsua60
    Mar 19, 2017 at 18:56
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    The last figures I could find were from 2015... The Census Bureau puts the percentage at 12% uninsured. The Kaiser Family Foundation puts it at 11%.
    – BobT
    Mar 19, 2017 at 19:10

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