Obamacare website’s traffic jam is a success, White House says

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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The fact that some people can’t get access to the Obamacare website shows that the website is meeting its goals, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Monday.

Roughly 375,000 people tried to use the Obamacare website on Monday morning, he said. However, many were denied access because the site could not handle the load, which officials say is intended to handle 50,000 concurrent users, each of whom stays online roughly 25 minutes.

Carney portrayed the online traffic jam as evidence that the site meets the administration’s much-touted goal of working “smoothly for the vast majority of users” by Nov. 30.

“I think you’re confusing error messages [widely seen in October] with the queuing message, which is quite a different thing entirely,” Carney told Fox News’ Ed Henry, who asked him if the access denials were evidence of a failure.

The people who could not use the site got messages telling them when to use the site later, Carney said.

“The queue message is a specific tool that was upgraded and improved and made to be more sophisticated so that when there were surges in traffic on the website and when the number of users reached a certain level, that people would get those messages … that if they wanted to enroll, there was a better time for them to come back,” Carney said.

The queuing tool was activated when the number of concurrent users was in the “mid-30,000” range, Medicare spokeswoman Julie Bataille said in another midday press conference. That’s far below the target goal of 50,000 concurrent users.

The website is failing to meet the “vast majority” test because the would-be users are trying and failing to use the Obamacare website, Henry argued back to Carney.

“Well, actually, Ed, I contest that,” Carney replied.

“I would ask you to find anywhere where I said that everybody would be able to enroll instantly on this day … more people are visiting the site and are able to effectively go from beginning to end when it comes to enrolling than was the case in October and in November,” he said.

Carney then tried to make the case that the website’s capacity is subsidiary to the White House’s goal.

“Our goal is to make sure that we continue to improve the overall experience, because the purpose here is to make sure that Americans have access to quality and affordable health insurance, and the HealthCare.gov site is an important part of that,” he said.

The website’s Monday failure to keep pace with pent-up demand came only one day after officials tried to claim they had successfully met their self-selected goal of bumping up the site’s capacity to 50,000 simultaneous users.

In October, only 28,000 people managed to get far enough into the website process to apply for coverage from health-benefit-companies.

Bloomberg reported Monday that 100,000 applied for commercial coverage in November.

However, those numbers are far below the administration’s pre-October goal of 800,000 sign-ups, and far below the 7 million sign-ups needed by March 31.

Also, officials have not said how many of the 128,000 applications have been blocked by faulty or missing software, which has prevented some applications from being accepted by insurance companies.

The website’s problem’ are only one hindrance — the high cost of the health-care coverage, plus a reduced level of doctors and hospitals, may also deter healthy young and educated people from enrolling in Obamacare-compliant health-benefits.

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