Face Of Obamacare Comes Out Of The Shadows

Healthcaredotgov Screenshot

The woman whose face graced the opening page of the Federal Obamacare Exchange website has come forward:

The smiling woman who was once the face of the Affordable Care Act’s website has come out of the shadows to stand up to the “cyberbullying” she says she suffered after the law’s flawed kickoff.

Speaking exclusively to ABC News, Adriana, who asked that only her first name be used, said she was speaking out now to defend herself after weeks of enduring online lampooning.

“They have nothing else to do but hide behind the computer. They’re cyberbullying,” Adriana told ABC News’ Amy Robach.

“I’m here to stand up for myself and defend myself and let people know the truth,” she said.

On Oct. 1, 2013, when the ACA’s website launched to enroll Americans in health insurance through federally run exchanges, it was Adriana’s face that greeted them.

Dubbed the “enigmatic Mona Lisa of health care,” her face was soon mocked, Photoshoped, altered. She became the subject of late-night jokes, partisan hatred and intense speculation.

The saga of the photo started innocuously enough. Seeking free family photographs, Adriana emailed a contact at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency responsible for the Affordable Care Act’s rollout, about having photos of her and her family taken in exchange for allowing the photos to be used to market the new health care law. She was never paid.

She learned over the summer that her photo would be on healthcare.gov’s main page, but she didn’t realize it would become so closely associated with the problems of the glitchy website.

“I mean, I don’t know why people should hate me because it’s just a photo. I didn’t design the website. I didn’t make it fail, so I don’t think they should have any reasons to hate me,” Adriana told ABC News.

Speculation swirled that Adriana might not be a legal resident of the United States, and therefore not even eligible for the health care exchanges. Adriana said she is a wife and mother who lives in Maryland with her 21-month-old son and husband of six and a half years. Her husband is a U.S. citizen, as is his her son. Adriana, who is Colombian, said she has lived legally in the U.S. for more than six years, is currently a permanent resident and is applying for citizenship.

Though she is eligible for healthcare through the ACA, Adriana says she hasn’t signed up for it, and is neither in favor nor against it.

To be honest, the fact that she became the face of political satire because of the fact that she was on the front page of the Federal Exchange’s website hardly strikes me as “Cyberbullying.” Indeed, given that she voluntarily lent her image to the endeavor would seem to me to make any such claim entirely without merit, especially since she’s still relatively anonymous and can remain such as long as she chooses not to reveal the full details of her identity.

FILED UNDER: Healthcare Policy, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Kal says:

    File this one under “human beings are horrible to one another.”

    Cyberbullying probably isn’t the right term for this, but that she got the photographs for free in exchange shouldn’t really matter, either. Would the mocking, speculation, photoshopping, etc… be any different had the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services chosen pictures off of iStockPhoto instead?

    Sure, had she not volunteered to have her family photographed, this wouldn’t have happened…to her. Someone else would be in her unenviable position.

  2. Franklin says:

    Isn’t this one of those situations where the people who say “privacy is dead” and “if you’re not doing anything wrong, you’ve got nothing to hide” look like the imbeciles that they are? She’s actually lucky that some deranged Teabagger hasn’t killed her (yet).

  3. bill says:

    poor thing, she didn’t realize that being the face on this site would be that bad- mainly because of the ass behind it.

  4. aFloridian says:

    It’s utterly ridiculous that this is even a thing. I don’t blame the smiling folks on the packaging when my Walmart-quality photo frame breaks. Who even notices these folks? Leave this poor woman alone.

    And Doug, this hardly strikes you as cyberbullying? Come on man, have a little sympathy. If it was your wife whose picture had ended up being lampooned, mocked, and posted on blogs throughout the interwebs, would you really stick by that? Whether her own actions and choices (innocent as they were) got her to this point or not, if cyberbullying is a thing, then singling out, amongst all the politicians, bureaucrats, and others who serve as faces of this program, a recent, virtually apolitical, immigrant and mother, it doesn’t speak well for anybody.

  5. James Pearce says:

    To be honest, the fact that she became the face of political satire because of the fact that she was on the front page of the Federal Exchange’s website hardly strikes me as “Cyberbullying.”

    You’re assuming that “political satire” was all she got. Post Sandra Fluke, that’s not a safe assumption to make.

    The right has yet to reorient their sense of “fair game” to the point where the “cyberbullying” described here is implausible. To the contrary, it’s hard to imagine they could resist the urge.

    Still….I’d love to see her Facebook page or email inbox. I bet the ire directed her way ebbs and flows according to drive-times in various urban markets.

  6. Bil Danielson says:

    I don’t get the bargain, this backstory simply doesn’t make sense.

  7. Boyd says:

    I agree with Doug that none of the actions she described come anywhere close to what I would call “cyberbullying.”

    Which is not to say that some of the more extreme examples aren’t thoughtless and downright mean. They would appear to me to be folks who should look at ways to improve their own lives instead of tearing down someone else.

    Also, I’m sure this is just how they lead their lives anyway. In a few days, weeks or months, they’ll move on to some other poor sap.

  8. fred says:

    She represented America well. After Obamacare website is working well, GOP will go back to voting to repeal ACA. Most Americans forget that GOP plan is to give us health care vouchers with lifetime caps. The News Marketplace has conveniently forgotten this. Pres O apologized for health care companies last week and in effect has allowed them to keep riping off citizens with junk policies. His pathetic display in the news conference was similar to the first Romney debate. Very disappointing for his supporters. He can fight back and gain support by standing up to the 39 blue dogs who voted with GOP and tell DNCC to launch primary fights agains each of the defectors. He has to get his mojo back and show grit to convince us he is fighting for all of us.

  9. Deidra says:

    In 2013, the internet will track down anyone. As an attorney , I’ve had clients ask how to protect their identity in a case. Frankly, there are few ways to escape if a single, determined person wants to find you.

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