7 epic failures that weren’t as bad as Oregon’s Obamacare exchange


By Andrew Collins and Dustin Hurst | Watchdog.org


Long live Oregonians.

But not their Obamacare apparatus.

Cover Oregon, the state’s attempt at developing an online insurance marketplace to comply with Obamacare, is dead. The board overseeing the operation voted last week to kill the exchange and allow state residents to sign up through the federally run system, which already handles residents in more than 20 states across the country.

Cover Oregon’s failure is spectacular, even when considering the glitch-filled rollout of Healthcare.gov, the federal exchange. Cover Oregon, once touted as one of the best state marketplaces, never managed to sign up a single Oregonian through its system.

Not a single one.

That’s after more than $300 million in taxpayer money went out the door to build the online portal, and after Oregon spent nearly $3 million on a slick ad campaign that really had little to do with health insurance.

According to this report in the Washington Post, some 60,000 Oregonians managed to enroll in private health plans through a “hybrid” process involving paper applications.

To make the switch to the federal system before the next enrollment period in late fall, officials say they will need $5 million in taxpayer support.

To mark the transition, we at Watchdog.org found seven epic failures that didn’t bomb nearly as badly as Cover Oregon. Take a look:

1. The BlackBerry Z10

BlackBerry’s new flagship smart phone was supposed to save the company, but it has cost them $1 billion and has not proven competitive against the powerhouse IOs and Android systems.

But hey, at least it works! Which is more than Cover Oregon can say.

2. 47 Ronin


This wannabe blockbuster last year brought in a sizable chunk of change — almost $150 million — but that fell well short of the film’s production budget of $225 million, saddling it with an estimated loss of $150 million. It is already considered one of the biggest box office bombs of all time.

At least the lost funds were private dollars.

We understand if you couldn’t stomach two hours of Keanu Reeves, but even for all those poor folks collectively suckered into spending $150 million on a terrible movie, Oregon taxpayers got it worse with $300 million going down the drain.

3. Twentieth Anniversary Mac

This bomb from Apple hit the market in 1997 with a price tag of $7,499. Sleek, but not functional, the price would eventually drop to $1,995 — less than production cost — and it was discontinued a year later. Thankfully Steve Jobs had just returned to mastermind a company turnaround.

4. Myspace


Remember the days before Facebook? News Corp. sold Myspace for a reported $35 million in 2011 after dropping a whopping $580 million on the social networking service six years earlier.

Fun fact though: Myspace still actually exists!

5. Walter Mondale’s 1984 presidential campaign


Mondale got absolutely steamrolled by Ronald Reagan , winning a dismal 41 percent of the popular vote and only 13 electoral votes. But 13 is a larger number than zero — the amount of online enrollees Cover Oregon has to its name.

Oh snap.

6. New Coke


“Smoother, rounder yet bolder.” That was the claim of “New Coke,” one of the most infamous marketing fails of all time.

Seriously, who thought that changing the formula of Coke would be a good idea? At least they had classic Coca-Cola to fall back on, and emerged strong as ever.

7. Babe Ruth traded for $100,000


Yeah, this one is pretty bad. The Red Sox traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees to finance a musical, and the rest is history. The Yankees went on to dominate the World Series for the next 20 years while the Red Sox languished for 80. They did, however, walk away with $100,000 in cash. A terrible deal, but technically better than nothing.

Contact: Andrew.Collins@franklincenterhq.org or Dustin@watchdog.org