The Big Difference Between Katrina and the Botched Obamacare Rollout

A blog about business and economics.
Nov. 15 2013 9:25 AM

The Difference Between Katrina and Healthcare.gov

55394273
Katrina. It was a thing.

Photo by Michael Sandberg/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

Since the comparison is in the air, it's worth noting the big difference between Hurricane Katrina and the botched Obamacare rollout. So here it is: 1,833 people died during Hurricane Katrina.

Obviously, George W. Bush and his administration are not responsible for all of those deaths. A storm's a storm. But let's be very generous to Bush and say that the underlying bad fundamentals are responsible for 95 percent of the damage and the bungled response gets just 5 percent of the blame. That's 91 dead people. How many people have died using HealthCare.gov? I'm pretty sure it's fewer than one. In fact, despite all the problems over 160,000 people have already gotten Medicaid.

Advertisement

None of which is to minimize the extent of the failure here. The administration and the Democratic Party writ large had very high aspirations for the Affordable Care Act, viewing it as a legacy-defining major pillar of the American welfare state that would massively improve the lives of millions of people. If they can't make the basic infrastructure work, none of that will happen and it'll be a huge failing. But even in the worst case, they're not going to get anyone killed. That's a big difference.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 16 2014 11:46 PM The Scariest Campfire Story More horrifying than bears, snakes, or hook-handed killers.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.