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Mystery swirls around Obamacare covergirl - and her vanishing

By Barbara Goldberg

(Reuters) - Hers was the face that launched 20 million snipes.

The smiling wholesome beauty was a symbol of Healthcare.gov but she has vanished amid a sea of frustrated users, her image taken down from the trouble-plagued Obamacare website by early Monday morning.

Nicknamed "Glitch Girl," the unnamed model stirred curiosity among media who scrambled to try to identify her after the site, which went live on October 1, was immediately slowed by technical problems and visitors found themselves endlessly staring at her on their frozen computer screens.

So far, 20 million unique users have clicked on the federal site, but only 700,000 applications have been submitted through a combination of the site and state-run Obamacare exchanges, according to testimony prepared for U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, to deliver to a Congressional panel on Wednesday.

Frustrated users unleashed their ire on the mystery woman, venting on Twitter and other social media.

"The #obamacare girl got the worst photo shoot gig since Joey did the STD poster on Friends," tweeted @RONCOULTER, referring to the sitcom character's shock when he discovered that his modeling picture had been used in a campaign about venereal disease.

After the Obamacare girl disappeared from the site, social media users rallied to support the mystery woman, whose image file on the site is named "Adriana."

"It's not the obamacare cover girl they need to fire," tweeted @joepatton.

Others said they planned to dress up as her character on Halloween.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs the website, was not immediately available for comment.

The government has replaced "Adriana" with four chunky icons that represent ways to sign up for the new mandatory health insurance. Creative critics have suggested other stand-ins, including the ghoulish Freddy Krueger character from the film series "A Nightmare on Elm Street" or Norwegian artist Edvard Munch's "The Scream."

The mystery surrounding the Obamacare girl may only deepen as new theories about her disappearance are tested online.

"Wasn't Manti T'eo dating #ObamacareGirl?" tweeted @MonteBlachford, referring to the Notre Dame football star who admitted he lied to keep up a hoax involving a nonexistent dying girlfriend.

(Additional reporting by Elizabeth Dilts; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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