Hub for reliable, timely news about COVID-19 pandemic

HealthCare.gov gets 40% jump in traffic after Galifianakis interview

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(CNN) — Roughly 24 hours after a video was posted Tuesday morning of President Obama sitting down for an appearance on comedian Zach Galifianakis’ show “Between Two Ferns,” more than 13 million people have watched the interview and some 54,000 of them have taken the President’s advice and checked out the government-run insurance exchange HealthCare.gov.

“I think what it says is that gone are the days when your broadcasts, or yours, or yours, can reach everybody that we need to reach,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, pointing to representatives from various major television news outlets at his briefing on Tuesday.

On an average day in February, more 33,600 people selected a new insurance plan using an Obamacare exchange. On Tuesday, the satirical interview between Galifianakis and Obama, produced by FunnyorDie.com, drove nearly twice that many to the government-run insurance marketplace, but a fuller picture of how many of those visitors actually signed up won’t become clear until new numbers are released sometime next month.

An official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports that there were more than 890,000 site visits to HealthCare.gov on Tuesday, marking a 40% increase over the day before, and FunnyorDie.com was the day’s top referrer.

The White House has just over two weeks left before enrollment closes on Obamacare marketplaces across the country, and the Galifianakis interview represents one part of the administration’s final push to encourage young, uninsured Americans to purchase insurance before the March 31 deadline.

So far just 25% of those who’ve enrolled through the end of February are between the ages of 18 and 34, an age group that is seen as healthier than others and thus key to controlling medical costs on the new Obamacare exchanges. Youth enrollment is way below the administration’s original target of 40% but high enough to ensure that the insurance exchanges are sustainable, administration officials have said.

“Very quickly this video went viral and not just because people thought it was funny and the regular viewers of Funny or Die clicked on it and watched it, but that it was getting folks – the video itself was causing the action that we hoped it would cause, which is getting folks to go to HealthCare.gov and look at the options available to them and hopefully enroll,” Carney said.

The video released Tuesday was created in part by the comedy website Funny or Die, where the average audience skews young. According to a spokesman for the site, the President’s appearance has been in the works since the site’s executives met with the President at the White House last summer.

“There were obviously some really accomplished people in the room, but they all started out as struggling artists,” said Funny or Die president of production Mike Farah soon after attending the meeting, adding that most of the people in attendance had gone without insurance at some point in their lives.

Funny or Die makes 25 or 30 original videos a month, and since the meeting last summer they’ve tried to help the White House get their enrollment message to go viral by publishing several light-hearted videos featuring celebrities pitching the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

“It all starts with something being funny,” Farah said.

Touting the administration’s other efforts, like a recent presidential town hall hosted by Spanish-language media outlets and an online question-and-answer session on the medical website WebMD, Carney said that videos like the one released Tuesday will be “one of the reasons we get young Americans to HealthCare.gov, one of the reasons we get young Americans to enroll in health insurance programs, but not the only way.”

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.