WASHINGTON — For a second time on Monday, the federal website where consumers can sign up for medical coverage under President Obama’s health care law unexpectedly stopped taking applications. It is the last day of open enrollment for the year.
Aaron Albright, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, indicated that the second failure occurred shortly after noon, and that it seemed to be caused by a flood of traffic on the site, HealthCare.gov. Earlier, he had said that the first failure, for about three hours in the morning, was caused by a software error unrelated to traffic volume. By 1:40 p.m., Mr. Albright said the site was functioning normally again.
Before the second failure was fixed, he released a statement that said: “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. 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. The tech team is working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.”Although the sign-up functions were disabled, other parts of the site were functioning normally, Mr. Albright said. That included the Data Services Hub, which verifies data entered by consumers against federal databases at agencies including the Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration.
Mr. Albright said that consumers who had started applications would be able to complete their enrollment after the latest problem was fixed. On Monday morning, the enrollment system on HealthCare.gov was taken offline for scheduled maintenance between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., but then remained down for several more hours because of a software bug discovered by technology personnel during maintenance.A surge of traffic has hit HealthCare.gov in the final days of open enrollment, the administration has said.
Last week, the administration said it would extend the deadline for people who tried to apply but were blocked by technical problems with the site. It also said that it had exceeded its revised goal of signing up six million people over the federal exchange and similar sites run by the states.
The White House press secretary, Jay Carney, said during his daily briefing on Monday that he was not sure when final enrollment figures would be available. But, he said, “here on the last day of enrollment, we’re looking at a number substantially larger than six million people enrolled.”