While some users have experienced difficulty logging onto Healthcare.gov, also known as the "Obamacare website," the White House explained that users are not getting an error page as they did before, but are being placed in a queue. Critics say the website is not working as well as the White House claims.
Healthcare.gov has met its goal of having a functioning website by Nov. 1, the White House announced over the weekend. The administration earlier said the website would be considered a success if 80 percent of users were able to sign on and complete the process.
At a Monday press conference, Fox News' Ed Henry challenged Press Secretary Jay Carney on the notion that the website is working.
"People are still getting the same error messages they got a couple days ago," Henry claimed.
Carney responded that the website is not giving an error message but is placing people in a waiting line.
"I think you're confusing error messages with the queuing message, which is quite a different thing entirely," he said. The queuing messages are a specific tool that was created and upgraded to be more sophisticated, so that when there were surges in traffic on the website, when the number of users reached a certain level, people would get those messages that they were placed in a queue. If they wanted to enroll, there was a better time for them to come back."
Henry countered that if people are getting the queue page, they still cannot sign up for health insurance on the website, which is the goal of the website.
Carney responded that he never said users "would be able to enroll instantly" on Monday, but "significant improvements have been made."
"The vast majority of users," he added, "we believe are able to use the website and have it function effectively for them. That does not mean, and we never said it would mean, there would be no problems moving forward."
The "queue" Carney was referring to does not fit the normal definition of a queue. It was a system put in place to prevent too many users overwhelming the system. The queue page is supposed to display when about 50,000 users are on at one time and notify them of a better time to log on. But users are not placed in a line.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Healthcare.gov is "plagued by bugs." The queue page was displaying when only about 35,000 users were logged on.
The website is also experiencing difficulties matching enrollees to the health insurance companies that need to provide the coverage they enroll for. In some cases the applications contain errors. In other cases, the companies are not receiving the applications. These errors are caused by failures with the website.
After accounting for all the website errors, roughly one-third of all those who have so far enrolled in a plan through the website may not have the coverage they are expecting next month, two unnamed government and health industry officials told The Washington Post.
A White House spokesperson claimed The Washington Post report "doesn't accurately reflect the picture of what's happening right now."