HealthCare.gov on track in spite of another outage, officials say

HealthCare.gov experienced an "unscheduled outage" for about an hour Monday morning, an Obama administration official confirmed Monday, but the administration maintains that the federal website, which serves as the portal for the Obamacare marketplaces in 36 states, will work for the “vast majority” of users by next week.

“We continue to be on track to meeting the goals that we established for ourselves and established for the website on Nov. 30,” White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. He called the website a “work in progress.”

Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), told reporters in a separate briefing that "the system will not work perfectly on Dec. 1" but should be able to handle as many as 50,000 users at a time and more than 800,000 visits a day.

The website was down for about an hour Monday morning and unexpected delays and outages are to be expected, Bataille said. Still, by next week the vast majority of users won’t see such system outages, she added. HealthCare.gov visitors experiencing problems can call the help line, which will be closed on Thanksgiving Day. 

The team of tech experts tasked with improving the website are building a queuing system, the officials said Monday, in case in the event that more than 50,000 people try to access the site at once. Users put in the queuing system will be able to stay on the site and explore “educational information” or submit their email address and get an invitation to come back to the front of the queue when there’s less traffic on the site.

While HealthCare.gov is making progress, Bataille didn’t say on Monday when the online marketplace for small businesses will be up and running; currently, small businesses can apply for plans for their employees with paper applications.

The Spanish-language version of HealthCare.gov -- CuidadoDeSalud.gov -- currently offers information about health insurance, but visitors still cannot create accounts or shop for insurance on the site.

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