ABC News has the scoop sought by a number of outlets (including the one you're reading now) for six weeks: an interview with Adriana, the vaguely ethnic, smiling young woman that was the face of Healthcare.gov just long enough to become the face of its failures.
Because of the glitches, the backlash, and conspiracy theories from conservatives who believe she is an illegal immigrant and thereby a first horseman of the apocalypse, Adriana is keeping a low profile. She didn't even give ABC her last name because of the cyberbullying she endured in the wake of the rollout. "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.
Hate is a strong word, especially for someone who is just smiling next to a bunch of logos. But since the rollout Adriana's has become the Mona Lisa for healthcare, and her face became a sponge for all the discontent that failed rollout wrought. There were photoshops (this is one of the more tame ones out there):
And sites like the conservative social news site Twitchy, along with The Washington Post, noticed that she no longer no appeared on the site late last month (around 3-4 weeks after the site went live). Some were intrigued (CNN ran a segment on the mystery of Adriana), and some just used the opportunity to make fun of her like this photoshop adept Twitchy reader:
ABC explains that "speculation swirled that Adriana might not be a legal resident of the United States, and therefore not even eligible for the health care exchange." This was a bit harder to find. But on AboveTopSecret, a conspiracy-theory driven site, there's a long thread where multiple users asked if Adriana was an illegal immigrant or even real. "I'm leaning more towards computer-generated 'American looking' face...ie. she never existed," one skeptic wrote.
Here's what we know about her. She is a native of Colombia and a permanent resident of the United States, married to an American man and with a young child. She lives and works in Maryland, and she actually volunteered to have her photo taken in exchange for allowing the photos to be used for Obamacare.
Shortly after Healthcare.gov went live, The Atlantic Wire contacted contractors who'd helped with the site's design and construction in an effort to determine Adriana's identity. We were told that she had volunteered to have her photo taken by Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency responsible for the Affordable Care Act's rollout, though a representative of that agency told us that her contact information wouldn't be shared.
The agency was tight-lipped, obviously aware that Adriana was increasingly the face and symbol of an unpopular site. The agency still maintains to ABC that Adriana's picture was removed from the site solely because "Healthcare.gov is a dynamic website," not because Adriana asked. Adriana wasn't happy about the site's response either, ABC News reported:
"Like I said it was shocking. It was upsetting. It was sad. We were having a hard day when we read all this," she said. "And in a way, I'm glad that my son is not old enough to understand, because you know whatever happens to you, it hurts them too."
Despite her cyberbullying, Adriana says things have calmed down and she's risen above the fracas like a majestic, healthcare-dispensing phoenix. "They didn't ruin my life. I still have a job, I'm still married," Adriana told ABC. "That didn't really crush me to the ground. I'm fine. Now I laugh about it."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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