Obamacare glitches: Was website fixed this weekend?
Obamacare: Glitches on the website for health insurance stalled sign ups in the first week. The Obamacare site was shutdown evenings over the weekend to try to fix the glitches.
Washington and Miami
It's not the sign that the Obama administration wants people to see on its health overhaul website: down for repairs.Skip to next paragraph
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Using overnight hours this past weekend to debug the system, the Health and Human Service Department hoped to fix the technological problems that overwhelmed the launch of new health insurance markets. This past week, glitches have frustrated millions of consumers unable to complete their applications.
Enrollment functions of the healthcare.gov site were unavailable during off-peak hours this past weekend The site was be taken down at 1 a.m. EDT each night for a few hours.
The enrollment function was back online at little before 8 a.m. EDT Saturday, but was working slowly because of heavy traffic.
"Please stay on this page," said a notice. "We're working to make the experience better, and we don't want you to lose your place in line. We'll send you to the login page as soon as we can."
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There was no indication of how long the wait would be.
In an interview with the Associated Press Friday, President Obama's advice to frustrated citizens: "They definitely shouldn't give up. Typically, what happens is when people are shopping for insurance, they visit a site or make phone calls or look at brochures five, six, seven times before they make a final decision. And they're not going to have to pay premiums until December -- the insurance doesn't start until January. So they'll have plenty of time.
And my message to them would be, each day the wait times are reduced. Each day, more and more people are signing up, and the product will save you money. People will save hundreds of dollars -- in some cases, thousands of dollars -- as a consequence of being able to get health insurance that is priced for them and gives them the choices that they need."
Credit card companies, banks and other online service providers regularly take down websites for repairs. That may also become a feature of the new insurance program.
An effort by congressional Republicans to defund or delay the health care law led to an impasse with Democrats over passing a budget bill, and that sparked a partial government shutdown Tuesday. Republicans quickly pointed to the website problems as another reason that the law they call "Obamacare" should be pulled back.
"Americans have seen once again that Obamacare is not ready for prime time," Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 House Republican, said in a statement Friday. "A dysfunctional website is the least of that law's problems."
The administration put the best face on the situation, noting the unexpectedly strong interest from millions of consumers.
"Americans are excited to look at their options for health coverage, with record demand in the first days of the marketplaces," said the release announcing the planned fixes.
The statement was headlined: "Health Insurance Marketplace Open for Business - Week One Success."