The Obamacare website at HealthCare.gov went down twice today, which is the deadline for signing up for health insurance since the site was first launched nearly six months ago.
The reason for today’s problems sounded similar to what they were back then on Oct. 1, when the website made its disastrous debut – complete with what seemed to be a slew of never-ending technical glitches that continued for months.
“There is a technical problem that the tech team is on,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters today. “There are currently 100,000 people on the system who are enrolling and there is no problem for them to enroll.”
By noon, however, a White House spokeswoman reported that 1.2 million people had visited the federal site.
But for those trying to get onto the health insurance site earlier in the morning, all they got was a message that the site was currently unavailable.
The website then went back up again for a few more hours, only to freeze up again, locking folks out for a second time on the final day to sign up.
According to officials from the Health and Human Services (HHS) department, the freeze-ups were only affecting those trying to log in to HealthCare.gov, not those who were already online and going through the process of signing up for health insurance.
“The demand is so great that people are queued up so some are in a sort of ‘waiting room,'” said Phil Schiliro, a White House legislative affairs assistant who added that the demand was so high that people were “queued up” in a type of ‘waiting room’, prompting over 300,000 phone calls to the call center Monday morning. That’s three times the number of calls since the last busy day for the site on Dec. 23.
“We’re processing as quickly as possible. Be patient or we’ll call you back,” Schiliro added.
As of early this evening, however, there was still a message at the top of the HealthCare.gov home page stating, “During times of especially high demand, you may be queued to begin your online Marketplace application to ensure the best possible shopping experience.”
The Obama administration reports that 8.7 million people have visited the federal health insurance website in the past week, with 2.9 million visiting over the weekend.
As previously reported, the White House said that it had exceeded its goal of getting 6 million people to sign up for a health plan at HealthCare.gov by the middle of April.
Although today marks the final day for people to sign up for health insurance on the Obamacare website, the HHS said that anyone who starts to enroll by midnight will be allowed a few more weeks to complete the process.
In the meantime, Carney said that each time the site had problems, it was being fixed quickly. He also said that the high demand is proof that people want health insurance regardless of the glitches.
“No one expected us to come back from the brink, but we have,” Carney said.