Traffic to Obamacare Site Doubles After Fixes

A rocky start: Obamacare.
National Journal
Sophie Novack
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Sophie Novack
Dec. 2, 2013, 12:21 p.m.

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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