POSTED: Sunday, December 1, 2013 - 1:24pm
UPDATED: Monday, December 2, 2013 - 10:59am
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Two months after coming online, the beleaguered HealthCare.gov website works "smoothly for the vast majority of users," the Obama administration claimed Sunday, the self-imposed deadline for getting the website up and running.
In a report and speaking to reporters, officials with the Department of Health and Human Services said more than 400 individual repairs have helped the health site increase its capacity to 50,000 users at a time, while lowering response times to less than a second. That amounts to what the administration calls "dramatic progress" in repairing the site.
"HealthCare.gov on December 1 is night and day from where it was on October 1," Jeff Zients, the management guru tasked with leading the website repair, told reporters on a conference call Sunday.
Charts included in the HHS document indicate the majority of the website fixes came over the past month, when a group of tech experts huddled to find ways of making the digital property usable for the bulk of Americans. President Obama, along with top deputies and staff, vowed the site would work for the "vast majority" of Americans by the end of November.
Julie Bataille, the communications director for the agency heading the website repairs, said the site was now allowing "in the zone of 80%" of users to successfully complete a health care enrollment.
The health agency said users now spend an average of 20 to 30 minutes on HealthCare.gov, and that usage trends show the site will be able to handle more than 800,000 visits a day.
"In effect, we've widened the system's onramp. It now has four lanes, instead of one or two," Zients said Sunday.
That's a far cry from the site's launch, when Americans looking to enroll in health insurance exchanges were unable to create accounts and log on. The technical problems, combined with groups of people having their insurance plans canceled, have caused a crisis for the White House and Obama, who has seen his approval ratings drop to new lows.
Officials cautioned Sunday that users could still face error messages and slow performance times, though they stressed the website was vastly improved from its launch.
"As with any website, the team will continue to address bugs and glitches," Zients said.