Obamacare ‘Surge:’ 375,000 Visitors

Photograph by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Insurance agents assist customers with the Affordable Care Act on Nov. 14, 2013 in Hialeah, Florida.

Welcome to the new “surge.”

The White House reported this afternoon that nearly half the daily capacity of the repaired Obamacare website was reached by midday.

“The president believes that the site has been significantly improved,” Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, said today. “But the work is not done.”

With the improvements announced over the weekend, he said, the healthcare.gov website will function well “for the vast majority of users.” And the administration will continue working on it to ensure that it is “enhanced every day.”

Asked about reports of backlogs behind the scenes, with insurers reporting lapses of information about people seeking insurance, he said the administration is having daily conversations with insurers about “834 forms” in which information is transmitted to insurers. “We’re going to continue to work with issuers to make sure that whatever remaining problems are addressed and fixed.”

One of the improvements made since the rollout of the website on Oct. 1 is in the queuing system, Carney said. This enables someone who can’t get into the site immediately to queue up and get a message when the traffic is clearer.

About 375,000 visitors had gone to healthcare.gov today, as of noon, he said, “which is obviously a large number.” Acknowledging that some might still have difficulty getting through, he said it was expected that “a surge” of interest would follow the announcement of improvements in a site that suffered a stumbling roll-out on Oct. 1. “We always expected today to be a big day.”

Jeffrey Zients, the tech wizard brought in by the White House to repair the website, reported over the weekend that the revamped site can handle 50,000 people at any one time — or about 800,000 a day.

Asked if today was a `Cyber Monday” for healthcare.gov, Carney said, “Look… we’ve said all along… this was a marker along the road towards the progress we need to make… The work is not done. It will continue.”

Carney was pressed today to say that the mission has been accomplished — the phrase that came to haunt former President George W. Bush claiming success in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003:

“Using that phrase is not one I would employ,” he said.

But “surge” was on the press secretary’s lips today — another reminder of the 10-year war in Iraq.

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