CMS: handled traffic surge

The Obama administration said Friday that the website adequately handled a massive surge of Internet traffic ahead of Tuesday’s deadline for consumers seeking healthcare plans that begin Jan. 1.

“There's no question that, over this past weekend, Monday, and Tuesday, met the mark and did exactly what it was supposed to do--helping Americans from across the country find secure, quality health insurance coverage at an affordable price,” The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) spokeswoman Julie Bataille said in a statement.

Bataille said that in the four days leading up to the Dec. 24 enrollment deadline, response times averaged half a second, and error rates were at less than 1 percent.

The website produced those numbers under the strain of record traffic.

According to the administration, 2 million people visited the site on Monday, and an additional quarter of a million phoned the call centers.

About 1 million people visited the site, and 200,000 called in over the weekend.

CMS said the website’s backup queuing system was deployed to handle the high volume on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. About 129,000 people opted to give CMS their email address to be invited back later. Those that waited in the queue were on hold for 10 minutes or less on average, CMS said.

On Monday, 83,000 people were able to access the site at one time, far surpassing the administration’s goal of 50,000 concurrent users by the end of November.

The queuing system was not needed on Tuesday, CMS said, when 880,000 people visited the website.

That could handle the surge in traffic is good news for the Obama administration, as it works to make-up for the paltry enrollment figures from October and November.

Still, back-end problems with the system have persisted. Healthcare officials are working frantically to manually reconcile thousands of enrollment transmissions sent from to insurers that were either garbled or contained bad data.