U.S. officials are acknowledging serious technical problems with the administration's new online health insurance marketplace, and say they are bringing in top outside experts to fix the system.
President Barack Obama is due to discuss the status of the HealthCare.Gov
website in a White House Rose Garden address on Monday. The White House says he will be joined by Americans who have already applied for health insurance through the site or are planning to do so.
The website is the core element of the president's 2010 Affordable Care Act,
which has also become known as Obamacare and is seen as the president's main domestic achievement.
The law established an online marketplace aimed at providing all Americans with "affordable, quality" health insurance coverage. But, the site has been plagued by glitches since it opened on October 1.
Internet users have been unable to create accounts, received confusing error messages and had to endure pages loading slowly or failing to respond in a timely way. Officials say President Obama considers those problems "unacceptable."
The Health and Human Services Department, which administers the site, said Sunday it has recruited "some of the best and brightest" technology experts from inside and outside the government to resolve the defects.
It said the experts are working "around the clock," updating the site with new code that includes bug fixes and conducting regular tests to improve the user experience.
The Obama administration initially blamed the glitches on a high volume of people trying to access the site. It has since acknowledged broader problems with the system, while insisting public demand for the product is strong.
The White House says almost half a million applications for health insurance have been received through Healthcare.gov since October 1. Users must file applications before they can enroll in a plan.
Officials have not disclosed the number of enrollments. U.S. media say the administration has a goal of enrolling seven million Americans by March 31.
Obama's Republican opponents have strongly criticized the Affordable Care Act, saying the law is deeply flawed and will harm the U.S. economy.
Demands by congressional Republicans to defund or delay Obamacare contributed to a partial shutdown of the U.S. federal government earlier this month.
The Republicans demanded the changes to the healthcare law as a condition for funding government operations beyond October 1, but Obama and his allies in the Democratic-led Senate refused, leading to the 16-day partial shutdown.
It ended with a bi-partisan deal to reopen the government and avoid a U.S. debt default. The agreement did not include major changes to Obamacare.