Health Care Website Stumbles on Last Day

Official cites 'technical problem' in glitches on deadline day.

Associated Press + More

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration's health care website stumbled on deadline day for new sign-ups.

Visitors to HealthCare.gov on Monday morning saw messages that the site was down for maintenance. At times the visitors were also directed to a virtual waiting room — a feature designed to ease the strain on the site during periods of heavy use.

Administration spokesman Aaron Albright said the website undergoes "regular nightly maintenance" during off-peak hours and that period was extended because of a "technical problem." He did not say what the problem was, but a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services called it "a software bug" unrelated to application volume.

[READ: What to Know About the March 31 Health Insurance Deadline]

Albright said consumers seeking to sign up will be able to leave their email and "will be invited back when the system is available." Consumers can also call 1-800-318-2596 to complete the application process.

Officials said the website wasn't hacked. The site, which was receiving 1.5 million visitors a day last week, received about 2 million a day over the weekend.

Albright said the website is typically down for maintenance during the period from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. EDT, and that as a result of the technical problems the site was down for at least three additional hours on Monday morning.

[READ: Obamacare Enrollment Deadline Extended ... Again]

The sign-up website had been taken down briefly Friday, with consumer interest surging. Lately the site has been getting about 1.5 million visits a day.

A recent analysis for The Associated Press by the performance-measurement firm Compuware found that the government site runs slow compared with health insurance industry peers.

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