Oregon Spent Millions on Trippy Commercials for a Health Care Website That Never Worked

It was the most earnest Obamacare ad campaign. It’s now the least functioning Obamacare website.

National Journal
Brian Resnick
Nov. 20, 2013, 6:25 a.m.

In pre­par­a­tion for the launch of Cov­erOre­gon.com, Ore­gon’s health care ex­change web­site, the state raised aware­ness in the most Ore­gon way ima­gin­able.

The $10 mil­lion ad cam­paign fea­tured folksy sing­ers, hand-painted props, tech­nicol­or and an­im­a­tions, and a good deal of flan­nel, all set around the op­tim­ist­ic theme of “Long Live Ore­go­ni­ans!” and “We’re Free to Be Healthy!”

Here’s a sampling of a lyr­ic, ooz­ing with an Arlo Gu­thrie sense of we’re-in-this-to­geth­er­ness: “Each log­ger and law­yer and stay-at-home dad / every baker and banker and in­die rock band / each stu­dent and teach­er and neigh­bor and friend / Will live long in Ore­gon.”

Well, it ap­pears from some re­port­ing by Re­u­ters, not so much.

“Ore­gon’s on­line ex­change has re­mained in­ac­cess­ible to the pub­lic, re­quir­ing the state to sign up ap­plic­ants the old-fash­ioned way, us­ing pa­per forms,” the wire ser­vice re­ports. “This has made com­par­is­on-shop­ping more dif­fi­cult for con­sumers and severely slowed the en­roll­ment pro­cess.”

These ads, and equally “cre­at­ive” ones from oth­er states, were meant in part to get young people aware of the ex­changes, be­cause their en­roll­ment is cru­cial to the suc­cess of the mar­ket­place. And they’ve worked in the sense that they’ve achieved some vir­al­ity off the air and on the Web — where these young people tend to gath­er their in­form­a­tion. In Ore­gon, 25,000 people have ap­plied via pa­per ap­plic­a­tions be­cause of the non­func­tion­ing web­site.