Bedeviled by technology glitches that frustrated millions of consumers, the Obama administration is taking down its health overhaul website for repairs this weekend.
Enrollment functions of the healthcare.gov site will be unavailable during off-peak hours, the Health and Human Services Department said Friday. The department did not release a schedule for hours of operation, but an HHS spokeswoman said the site would be taken down at 1 a.m. EDT each night for a few hours.
The website will remain open for general information.
Technology problems overwhelmed the launch of new health insurance markets Tuesday, embarrassing the administration just when the health care law known as "Obamacare" was supposed to be introduced to average consumers.
The administration is putting the best face on the situation, noting the unexpectedly strong interest from millions of consumers. Federal and state websites experienced problems this week. Some states, including Maryland, have also announced they are scheduling repairs.
Credit card companies, banks and other online service providers regularly take down websites for repairs. That may also become a feature of the new insurance program.
The federal site, which serves 36 states, drew millions of users, an indication of strong consumer interest. Yet many people were unable to get on the site and others encountered glitches that prevented them from successfully completing their applications.
At the end of the first day at most a handful of people had managed to successfully enroll through the federal site.
However, by Friday, enrollments seemed to be picking up — though not yet at desired levels. The administration is not releasing numbers.
By Monday, "there will be significant improvements in the online consumer experience," HHS said,
Consumers have until Dec. 15 to enroll for coverage that starts Jan. 1. Read more.