Officials say worst problems over for health care site

Politically, a fixed website could offer a fresh start for President Obama and his fellow Democrats after a wave of bad publicity.


Politically, a fixed website could offer a fresh start for President Obama and his fellow Democrats after a wave of bad publicity.

WASHINGTON — The worst of the online glitches, crashes, and delays may be over for the problem-plagued government health care website, the Department of Health and Human Services said Sunday.

But that doesn’t mean HealthCare.gov is completely ready. Officials acknowledged more work remains on the website, which had hundreds of software bugs, inadequate equipment, and inefficient management at its national debut two months ago.


Federal workers and private contractors have undertaken an intense reworking of the system, but the White House’s chief troubleshooter cautioned some users could still encounter trouble.

‘‘The bottom line — HealthCare.gov on Dec. 1 is night and day from where it was on Oct. 1,’’ Jeff Zients told reporters.

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More than 50,000 people can log on to the website at one time and more than 800,000 people will be able to shop for insurance coverage each day, the government estimated in a report released Sunday.

That would be a dramatic improvement from the system’s first weeks, when frustrated buyers watched their computer screens freeze, the website crash, and error messages multiply.

The figures, which could not be independently verified, suggest that millions of Americans could shop for and buy insurance policies online by the Dec. 23 deadline.


‘‘There’s not really any way to verify from the outside that the vast majority of people who want to enroll can now do so, but we’ll find out at least anecdotally over the coming days if the system can handle the traffic and provide a smooth experience for people trying to sign up,’’ said Larry Levitt, a senior adviser at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

But, he added, HealthCare.gov is clearly working better than when it first went online. Its challenge now is to persuade users who were frustrated during their first visit to give it another chance.

Politically, a fixed website could also offer a fresh start for President Obama and his fellow Democrats after a wave of bad publicity surrounding the president’s chief domestic achievement.

‘‘This website is technology. It’s going to get better. It’s already better today,’’ said Representative Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat who is a cochairman of the liberal Congressional Progressive Caucus. ‘‘And we’re only going to be working out more kinks as we go forward.’’

HealthCare.gov was envisioned as the principal place for people in 36 states to buy insurance under Obama’s health care law. But its first few weeks were an embarrassment for the administration and its allies.

Obama set Saturday as the deadline to fix several significant problems and the administration organized a conference call with reporters Sunday morning to boast that 400 technical problems had been resolved.

Officials, however, declined to say how many items remain on the to-do list.

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