White House officials said Tuesday that President Obama's appearance on the online comedy interview show "Between Two Ferns" helped make FunnyOrDie.com—which produces the show—the number one referrer to HealthCare.gov for the day.
Obama's appearance on "Between Two Ferns," hosted by actor Zach Galifianakis, was tied to the White House's final outreach efforts to encourage more young adults to enroll for coverage through the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) exchanges. At one point during the interview, Obama said, "I wouldn't be with you here today if I didn't have something to plug ... Have you heard of the Affordable Care Act?"
The episode was posted online at about 7 a.m. on Tuesday. CMS spokesperson Aaron Albright said that by 1 p.m., HealthCare.gov had received more than 19,000 referral visits from FunnyOrDie.com. By 6 p.m., the video had referred nearly 32,000 unique visitors to the site.
Still, the number of people who visited the exchange website directly from FunnyOrDie.com represented only a small portion of those who watched the online interview video, according to Politico. The video had been viewed about three million times by 1 p.m. on Tuesday and about seven million times by 6 p.m., according to website officials.
Obamacare enrollment likely to fall short of White House goal
Some conservatives criticized Obama for appearing on the show, citing it as evidence that he does not take the office of the presidency seriously.
How FunnyOrDie.com scored an interview with the president
According to Scott Aukerman, the executive producer and director of "Between Two Ferns," the FunnyOrDie.com team first met with White House staffers in July to discuss the possibility of creating videos that would draw attention to the ACA rollout.
"And then months and months went by and nothing really happened with it," Aukerman told Vulture. Then, about three weeks ago, they were told a presidential "Between Two Ferns" appearance might be possible. After that, "It really came around in a week," Aukerman says (Epstein, Politico, 3/11; Easley, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 3/11; Fung, "The Switch," Washington Post, 3/11; David Fox, Vulture, 3/11).
How the White House is marketing the ACA
The FunnyOrDie.com interview is just a small part of the White House's broader promotional strategy for the ACA. Here are some stories about other efforts:
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