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Health Care

Traffic to Obamacare Site Doubles After Fixes

Surge in traffic on HealthCare.gov may be causing some problems on the overall improved site.(Chet Susslin)

photo of Sophie Novack
December 2, 2013

About 375,000 people visited HealthCare.gov between midnight and noon Monday, according to administration officials. The number is twice as many users as the site typically has seen on any given Monday.

However, the increased traffic may be causing some problems on the overall improved site.

The surge of visitors is due to widely publicized repairs to the website. The administration had set the end of November as the deadline to have the online federal exchange working smoothly "for the vast majority of users." Officials said Sunday that the goal had been achieved, touting dramatically lower wait times, and higher success rates on the site.

 

According to officials, the new-and-improved HealthCare.gov is now able to handle 50,000 concurrent users, and 800,000 total users per day.

Many consumers reported significant improvements, although traffic to the site still caused some problems.

At times of high traffic, a message read: "HealthCare.gov has a lot of visitors right now! We need you to wait here, so we can make sure there's room for you to have a good experience on our site."

As a result, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs the site, decided about 10 a.m. on Monday to deploy a new queuing system that allows consumers to enter their email address and be notified when there is an opening. Upon return, those consumers would be moved to the front of the queue.

That decision was made when traffic to the site hit the mid-30,000s of concurrent users, according the Julie Bataille, communications director for CMS.

The fact that the queue was set up at that level of traffic led some on Monday's CMS press call to wonder whether the website did not actually have the capacity to handle 50,000 users, as asserted. But Bataille said the decision was made to decrease wait times and errors, and was not an indication of capacity limitation.

"It's something that will fluctuate in real time," she said, emphasizing that the establishment of the queue was intended to maximize user experience.

According to Bataille, peak traffic tends to be between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays, indicating that the site is on track to surpass 800,000 users by the end of the day Monday.

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