HHS debuts changes to ObamaCare website

ObamaCare's online enrollment system is undergoing changes as federal health officials seek to mitigate the site's botched rollout.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced late Sunday that healthcare.gov, the portal where millions are trying to buy health insurance, has new features to help users navigate the system.

The website allows visitors to preview health plans and prices, and review their eligibility for federal discounts using an online calculator. HHS also added several new cues that prompt users to apply for coverage by phone. 

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The changes come amid strong criticism of ObamaCare's rollout from would-be applicants to the exchanges, as well as technical experts familiar with the system's online infrastructure.

After its debut, healthcare.gov was almost completely out of service for two weeks as users faced error messages, slow page loads and buggy code.

While the site has improved in the last week, the system is still considered too weak to cope with the flood of users interested in purchasing health coverage.

The problems pose a serious challenge to the Obama administration. The health insurance marketplaces are the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act, and without a functional enrollment system, they will stumble out of the gate.

In comments at the White House, President Obama on Monday said the administration is doing everything it can to "get the websites working better, faster, sooner."

"No one is madder than me that the website isn't working as it should — which means it's going to get fixed," Obama declared.

HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters said Sunday that healthcare.gov's new content responds to user feedback.

"We're giving users more information to make the decision that's right for them about how to apply and enroll in affordable health coverage," Peters said in a statement.

This story was posted at 10 a.m. and was updated at 1 p.m.