Just six people were able to enroll in health insurance through the Obamacare website of exchanges on day one even as a high-volume of traffic was logged, according to new documents obtained by Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Administration and government officials charged with implementing the Obamacare site Healthcare.gov met the day after launch to discuss the laundry list of problems the site was having—direct enrollment wasn’t working and high capacity was overwhelming the site, amongst other problems. Just six people had been able to enroll by the time of that morning “War Room” meeting.
The White House is pushing back against the documents, saying they’re just notes, not real numbers. “These appear to be notes, they do not include official enrollment statistics,” Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for Health and Human Services, said in a statement.
Peters added that the department planned to release enrollment stats on a monthly basis and that it had “always anticipated that the pace of enrollment will increase throughout the enrollment period.”
Republicans have hammered the White House over the website rollout for a law they have long opposed, and this week grilled President Obama’s top health care official, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, at a House hearing that some Democrats labeled a “show.” But even some Democrats have called for a delay to the law’s individual insurance mandate after the spotty website rollout.
The administration team met again later in the evening on October 2, in the War Room. Approximately 100 had enrolled, but thousands were still waiting to log on. “Some estimates show 40,000 people in the waiting room,” the documents read.
The day before, Oct. 1, the president had bragged of heavy traffic in a press conference—1 million signed up before 7 a.m. according to the president—as an indicator of pent-up demand.
By the morning of the third day, the group had revised early estimates to show that 248 enrollments had been completed by the end of the second day.
There were 48 million Americans living without health insurance in 2012, according to the Census Bureau. The new health law is expected to eventually extend coverage to more than 30 million Americans, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
An aide for the Oversight Committee told NBC News that the notes and numbers were taken during the first few meetings at Center for Consumer Information and Insurance (part of CMS) between administration officials and contractors who were tackling website problems.
State-based exchanges appear to be far more successful so far: Kentucky’s exchange, after an initial crash due to traffic, kicked off with roughly 1000 enrollments a day. New York and California also both sported high enrollment numbers in their exchanges.