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Insurer Pokes Fun at Federal Website in Ads

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) As the federal government hustles to fix the much-maligned insurance enrollment website, one Midwestern insurer is poking fun at the technical problems as it tries to lure away some potential customers.

New television ads from Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield launched recently in Iowa and South Dakota tell viewers that the government website isn't "the only place to buy health insurance."

Wellmark spokeswoman Traci McBee says the company is not criticizing the federal government but is simply trying to make sure consumers know that they can buy insurance directly from Wellmark.

Elizabeth Wilner, vice president of Kantar Media, which tracks advertising, said the Wellmark ads were the most direct she'd seen commenting on the federal insurance enrollment website.