WASHINGTON, D.C. - Almost three weeks after launch the online health insurance marketplace created by the president's signature healthcare legislation continues to be plagued by technical problems.
Despite the setback, however, the Department of Health and Human Services announced this weekend that "nearly half a million" Americans have already applied for coverage through the website.
Citing anonymous administration sources, The Associated Press has narrowed the figure to 476,000 applications divided among state and federal exchanges. But although the number does serve as a gauge of activity during the site's early days, the White House has declined to release how many of those applications resulted in enrollment in a health insurance plan. Those figures are expected to be released in mid-November.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has previously estimated Healthcare.gov would result in 7 million people being enrolled in its first six months. Without knowing how many are currently enrolled, it would be impossible to know whether site is on track to reach that target.
The creation of the website was mandated by the Affordable Care Act, passed by congress in President Obama's first term and colloquially known as Obamacare. Since the marketplace went public, visitors have experienced unexplained errors, slow loading times, and trouble creating accounts, among other issues.
According to HHS experts from both in and outside the federal government have been recruited to service the site, although the White House has not fully disclosed what led to the problems plaguing their creation. High user traffic was initially blamed, but officials have since admitted that faulty software design itself has played a role.
Obama is expected to address the progress in implementation of the legislation in remarks Monday. The White House says he will be joined in the Rose Garden by "consumers, small business owners, and pharmacists who have either benefitted from the health care law already or are helping consumers learn about what the law means for them and how they can get covered."