By Elise Viebeck - 12/20/13 03:28 PM EST
President Obama expressed regrets about ObamaCare's troubled rollout on Friday, saying it was obviously screwed up.
"The fact is, it didn't happen in the first month, the first six weeks, in a way that was at all acceptable," Obama said in response to a question about his biggest mistake of the year. "Since I'm in charge, obviously, we screwed it up."
The latest round of criticism began Thursday night over a decision to modify the individual mandate and allow people with canceled plans to purchase catastrophic policies once intended mainly for young people.
Obama defended the move as helping a select group of people who "slipped through the cracks."
"The majority of [people with canceled insurance] are either keeping their old plan, or they're finding a better deal in the marketplace with better insurance for cheaper costs," Obama said.
"There may still be a subset, a significantly smaller subset than the numbers that have been advertised, that are still looking for options."
Republicans argued Friday the law ought to be delayed for everyone given the administration's many delays and modifications to its rollout.
Obama fought back Friday, saying that the rollout's errors and a storm of bad publicity don't affect "the core of the law."
"The basic structure of the law is working," he said. "Despite the website problems, despite the messaging problems, it is working."
Obama also revealed that more than 500,000 people signed up for health plans at HealthCare.gov in the first three weeks of December.
The major spike in enrollments put the total number of ObamaCare plans purchased at 1 or 2 million, Obama suggested during the press conference.
Federal health officials have not released official sign-up data for December.