It was quite the week for the Affordable Care Act.
New online health exchanges lurched into action in Minnesota and across the country on Tuesday even as a polarized Congress brought on a partial government shutdown over the law's funding.
There were glitches. There were shouts of frustration. There was also glee over the Obamacare exchanges, a marketplace where insurance plans can no longer turn people away and must cover a wider range of conditions.
But the real action may have been happening on Internet search engines.
Americans searched on "Obamacare" 8.5 million times on Google during the first three days of the exchanges, according to an analysis by Nina Hale Inc., a Minneapolis search engine marketing firm.
Interest in "MNsure," the name of Minnesota's online marketplace, spiked as well, said Nina Hale, the company's founder and CEO. While "MNsure" had been hitting about 1,300 searches per day, the name spiked to 25,000 searches the day it launched, which Hale believes eclipsed all other Minnesota health care queries for the day.
So how hot was "Obamacare" trending? Sizzling, if judged by Hale's pop culture standard. The term outstripped "Miley Cyrus" searches by about a third last week.
Yet if search-engine logic is to be followed, the nation's 44th president shouldn't get too smug. In a head-to-head between "Barack Obama" and "Grumpy Cat," searches showed a definite upward trend for the leader of the free world this week. But on Google at least, the surly feline came out ahead — by a whisker. □