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POLITICS: PennAve

Glitches hit Obamacare website ahead of deadline

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Politics,White House,Obamacare,Health Care,PennAve,Susan Crabtree,Healthcare.gov,Health Care Exchanges

The healthcare.gov website was overloaded with record traffic on Monday, the final day of open enrollment for Obamacare, according to an administration official.

Shortly after 12:30 p.m., the website was down again — following a separate early morning outage — preventing first-time users from signing up for the law’s insurance exchanges.

An hour later, Health and Human Services spokeswoman Joanne Peters said the issue had been resolved and all users could again access the website. She blamed “record” traffic to the site as the reason for the continued glitches.

There are “more than 100,000 people concurrently in the system as of noon," she said.

"The tech team monitoring healthcare.gov in real time has identified an issue with users creating new accounts. The application and enrollment tools are unavailable to new users at the moment," she said.

"The tech team is working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. The Data Services Hub is still fully operational. Users already in system remain able to complete enrollment."

Earlier Monday, the website was restored after being down for maintenance for several hours in the early morning.

The administration already announced that it would essentially extend the deadline for people who claimed they had technical difficulties enrolling in an Obamacare plan. Users just have to check a blue box on healthcare.gov that says they had difficulty enrolling — the administration conceded it will use an honor system and that there is no actual way to verify such a claim.

Users rushing to beat the March 31 deadline to obtain health insurance or pay a fine were greeted with a familiar error message Monday morning. The outage harkened back to recent months, when similar technical glitches sunk the initial rollout of President Obama's signature domestic achievement.

In recent days, the administration said the website was fully prepared to handle the surge in traffic ahead of the March 31 deadline.

White House spokesman Jay Carney downplayed the continued technical problems, touting the record number of visits the website had over the weekend.

“We've had 2.9 million visits to the website this past weekend and more calls to the call center than for all of February,” he said.

Carney declined to say when the administration would provide the final enrollment numbers for the full six-month sign-up period that ends Monday, but predicted the final figure would be more than the current 6 million level.

“There are few people, including those in this room, who would have predicted” the administration would reach that figure, he said.

He credited “the remarkable persistence and hard work of the teams who fixed the problems with healthcare.gov,” as well as the American people who “would not be deterred despite the problems that initially existed.”

Brian Hughes contributed to this report.

This story was published at 1:36 p.m. and has been updated.

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