The Obamacae website stumbled at least twice on the deadline day for sign-ups on Monday with visitors to HealthCare.gov seeing messages that the site was down for maintenance. At times the visitors were also directed to a virtual waiting room designed to ease the strain on the site during periods of heavy use.
Administration spokesman Aaron Albright said the website undergoes "regular nightly maintenance" during off-peak hours and that period was extended because of a "technical problem." He did not say what the problem was, but a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services called it "a software bug" unrelated to application volume.
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Albright said consumers seeking to sign up will be able to leave their email and "will be invited back when the system is available." Consumers can also call 1-800-318-2596 to complete the application process.
Albright said the website is typically down for maintenance during the period from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. EDT, and that as a result of the technical problems the site was down for at least three additional hours on Monday morning.
Healthcare.gov, the federal website for Obamacare, faltered for the second time today as a record number of people tried to buy health insurance on the last day of enrollment for 2014.
Starting about midday New York time, users weren’t able to create new applications because of the number of people trying to use the website. Visitors to the health insurance exchange are being directed to a queuing system that asks them to provide an e-mail address so they can be contacted when traffic slows.
“There are a record number of people trying to access healthcare.gov right now -- more than 100,000 people concurrently in the system as of noon,” Aaron Albright, a spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in an e-mail. “The application and enrollment tools are unavailable to new users at the moment. The tech team is working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. Users already in system remain able to complete enrollment.”
The sign-up website had been taken down briefly Friday, with consumer interest surging. Lately the site has been getting about 1.5 million visits a day.
A recent analysis for The Associated Press by the performance-measurement firm Compuware found that the government site runs slow compared with health insurance industry peers.
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