President Obama speaks about the Affordable Care Act on Oct. 21 alongside health care professionals and people affected by the new legislation at the White House. (Saul Loeb / Getty Images)
President Obama said a “tech surge” is underway to fix technical problems with the federal health care exchange website.
The HealthCare.gov website hasn’t worked as smoothly as it was supposed to and people are getting stuck in the application process, Obama said Monday during a press conference. He added that overwhelming traffic to the site has compounded the technical problems.
“I think it’s fair to say that nobody is more frustrated by that than I am,” he said. He added that nearly 20 million people have visited the site since Oct. 1.
A “tech surge” will involve more people working on fixing software bugs and expanding capacity to make the system better. He said private companies have also been reaching out to help.
“We are confident that we will get all the problems fixed,” Obama said.
He added that the administration is boosting staff at call centers to help people enroll for coverage over the phone and to help them apply through the mail. People stuck in the website registration process will receive a call or email to help guide them the rest of the way through the process, he said.
While the exchanges have been online for only three weeks, visitors have nearly six more months to enroll for coverage and will be able to purchase better coverage at lower prices, the president said.
The rocky rollout of the exchanges does not mean the underlying laws need to be changed, Obama said.
“If the launch of this website proves anything it’s that people across this country don’t just need this security, they want it,” he said.
The press conference comes a day after the Health and Human Services Department vowed to fix the problems.
In an Oct. 20 blog post, the department acknowledged that the experience for many Americans has been “frustrating” and problems have ranged from log-in and registration problems to slow web pages and confusing error messages.
“The initial consumer experience of HealthCare.gov has not lived up to the expectations of the American people. We are committed to doing better,” the agency said.