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Obamacare website freezes up twice on last day to enroll

Teresa Tanoos's picture
HealthCare.gov goes down twice on deadline day for signing up.

The Obamacare website at HealthCare.gov froze up twice Monday on the last day to sign up for health insurance since the site's disastrous launch last Oct. 1, when ongoing technical problems prevented people from gaining any access to the federal health insurance site.

The reason for today’s website problems sounded similar to what they were back then, when the site continued to experience one glitch after another in the months following its October debut.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters today that there was a "technical problem", which the tech team was "on".

As of noon, however, a White House spokeswoman reported that 1.2 million people had visited the site.
Prior to then, those trying to get onto the site received a message saying it was "currently unavailable."

When the website was then made available for several hours, it once again froze up, preventing people from gaining access for a second time today.

According to officials from the Health and Human Services (HHS) department, the freeze-ups were only affecting those trying to log onto HealthCare.gov, not those who were already online and going through the process of signing up for health insurance.

Phil Schiliro, a White House legislative affairs assistant, said 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, which was triple the number of calls since the last busy day on Dec. 23.

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He added that calls were being processed as quickly as possible, asking folks to "be patient or we'll call you back."

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.

Carney added that no one "expected us to come back from the brink, but we have."

As of late this afternoon, however, there was still a message at the top of the HealthCare.gov homepage that stated the following:

"During times of especially high demand, you may be queued to begin your online Marketplace application to ensure the best possible shopping experience."

SOURCE: Department of Health and Human Services, News, March 31, 2014. HealthCare.gov, homepage, March 31, 2014.