Live from New York, it’s…the future?
Saturday Night Live opened this past weekend with a sketch mocking Obamacare and the healthcare.gov website catastrophe, with the brilliant Kate McKinnon playing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a spoof of a press conference addressing the site’s many (many) glitches and the ensuing user outrage.
It was intended as satire. It was closer to documentary.
“A lot of folks have been talking about our new healthcare enrollment site, how it’s been crashing and freezing and shutting down and stalling and not working and breaking and sucking,” McKinnon-as-Sebelius said. “Millions of Americans are visiting healthcare.gov, which is great news. Unfortunately the site was only designed to handle six users at a time.”
As it turns out, those numbers weren’t too far off.
Though the sketch aired six days ago, statistics about Obamacare enrollment that leaked Thursday show that the figures SNL used for its punchline, outlandish as it was attempting to be, were no joke.
CBS News obtained notes from “war room” meetings conducted on the days surrounding the Obamacare website’s failure. Publicly, the Obama administration was saying that 4.7 million unique visitors accessed healthcare.gov on the day of its launch, a Tuesday. Notes from Wednesday morning’s war room meeting say only “six enrollments have occurred so far.”
There you have it. Saturday Night Live predicted the Obamacare failure.
OK, it’s probably just a crazy coincidence. Still, it was one of the strongest sketches the show has produced thus far this season, a blistering takedown made all the more hysterical by how frighteningly true it was and how perfectly it channeled our collective frustrations over the political calamity.
There were, for example, Sebelius’s friendly tips for getting around the website’s glitches. “Have you tried restarting your computer?” she asks. Perhaps you should try signing up in different language, like Icelandic, which allows you to choose between four simple plans: Fjordflug, Huegelhoffer, Trollish, or High-Five. Or try alternate websites, like Kayak.com, which will allow you to purchase a plane ticket to Canada, where you can buy cheaper prescription drugs. (That joke in particular, got a rousing response from the audience.)
And while the “site was only designed to handle six users at a time” joke turned, in fact, to be true, a recent visit to the website shows that the “Frequently Asked Questions” SNL suggested the site to post, have not yet been replicated in real life: “What the hell?” “How have I been on the same page for three hours?” and “Does Obamacare cover mental health issues caused by using this website?”
We’d really like to know the answer to that question.