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The federal health insurance website froze up twice on Monday, the last day to sign up for health insurance — a troubling repeat of HealthCare.gov’s catastrophic rollout last October, when only a trickle of people could get past the website’s glitches to get signed up.
“There is a technical problem that the tech team is on,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters. “There are currently 100,000 people on the system who are enrolling and there is no problem for them to enroll.”
A White House official said 2 million people had visited the site as of 3 p.m. Easterm time.
"As of 4 pm, there were more than 840,000 calls to the call center," Health and Human Services Department spokeswoman Joanne Peters said.
Earlier Monday, people trying to log on were told the site was "currently unavailable." The website was brought back online for several hours before locking people out a second time.
Health and Human Services department officials said the problem was only affecting people trying to sign onto the site, not people already partway through the process.
"The demand is so great that people are queued up so some are in a sort of 'waiting room,'" Phil Schiliro, legislative affairs assistant at the White House, told NBC News. He said there were more than 300,000 calls to the call center Monday morning — three times as many as the previous most busy day, Dec. 23.
"We're processing as quickly as possible. Be patient or we'll call you back," he said.
The White House says 8.7 million people have visited HealthCare.gov in the last week, and 2.9 million people visited the website over the weekend. The federal government says 6 million people had enrolled in private insurance on the website as of mid-April.
Anyone who has started the enrollment process as of midnight will be given at least a few more weeks to finish, HHS says.
Carney says the website is being fixed quickly when anything goes wrong, and says the enormous demand is proof that people want health insurance despite the glitches. "No one expected us to come back from the brink, but we have," he said.