HealthCare.gov, or the so-called Obamacare website, was down temporarily this Monday, March 31, the last day for Americans to sign-up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Visitors of the website on early Monday morning saw a message on the site stating that it was down for maintenance. Some of them were led to a virtual waiting room, while others were advised to visit the site again later.
Aaron Albright, the spokesman for the Obama administration, said that the US health care website went back to normal a few minutes before 9 AM EDT. He emphasized that the website was not hacked, but rather went on to its usual maintenance period every Monday, 1-5 AM, EDT. However, a technical problem occurred, and the site was closed for four more hours.
Officials said that HealthCare.gov was receiving 1.5 million visitors daily last week and around 2 million visits per day over the weekend. Last Thursday, a post on the website said that more than 6 million people have already enrolled in the controversial health care insurance since October 1, 2013. Although no official count was released, some analysts believe the number of people enrolled could be close to 7 million.
The law states that enrollment for the health insurance will end at 11:59 PM (New York time) for the 36 states that are being served by the federal government’s exchange. But last week, the White House said that extension of enrollment will be given to those who will sign-up on the last day but will not be able to complete the process.
“Open enrollment ends March 31. We are experiencing a surge in demand and are making sure that we will be ready to help consumers who may be in line by the deadline to complete enrollment—either online or over the phone,” Health and Human Services spokesperson Joanne Peters said, without providing further details.
According to the law, those who will fail to sign-up will face a fine of $95 or 1% of the annual household income, or whichever is higher. The penalty in 2016 will be up to $695 a year, or 2.5 percent of the yearly income.