Nearly 500,000 people have filled out applications for Obamacare coverage despite the highly publicized problems with online sign-ups, administration officials told CNN Saturday.
"The website is unacceptable, and we are improving it," one senior administration official said. "But the underlying insurance product is good, and across the country people are getting access to affordable care on January 1."
The Affordable Care Act is intended to serve more than 48 million Americans without health insurance. Most Americans face tax penalties if they do not have health insurance by January 1.
The online sign-up process began October 1 and immediately ran into technical problems. Users often were unable to create required logins and passwords and ran into error messages even after that stage. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen, who tried to enroll as an experiment, needed two weeks to reach the application stage.
Insurers also have complained of problems. Congressional hearings on the glitches are planned for next week.
The open enrollment period continues through March 31.
"We are going to work intensely for the next six months to make sure we meet the demand," the administration official said.
“Now, if you look at the homepage this morning for Healthcare.gov, there is something new that you can click on. It says apply by phone,” Cohen reports.
“I must say I have talked to these phone operators many, many times. They are very helpful. They do answer quite quickly.”