Technical problems with the federally facilitated health insurance exchange were caused by a specific software component that crashed under the high volume of visitors last week, preventing users from creating accounts in the beginning stages of the enrollment process, a federal official confirmed to CNN on Tuesday.
"At lower volumes, this software component would work fine, and at higher volume, that's what created the problems," the official said. "We've made software changes to make the system more efficient and be able to handle higher volumes."
For more than a week, visitors to Healthcare.gov have experienced slow connection speeds and error messages preventing them from purchasing insurance. The Department of Health and Human Services has been taking down parts of the site during off-peak hours, and officials say that adding more server capacity; moving certain over-stressed components to dedicated hardware; and making software changes to increase efficiency have improved the situation.
As Deputy Sr. White House Adviser for Communication, Simas says people are working around the clock to fix these problems, but urges patience and consideration for the magnitude of the project.
“The President said from the beginning; with a site like this of course there are going to be glitches,” Simas explains. “But let's understand why there was the initial problem: We had 250,000 concurrent users at one time. I mean just for perspective, Medicare.gov, in a given month, has 5-million unique visitors. This in the first three says had 8.6-million unique visitors, which speaks to the demand.”
To all those who've been frustrated by the website and are about to give up, Simas says, 'Keep on going back, call a help center– and understand there's a six-month period to sign up.”