With most of the American public still distracted by leftover stuffing and family drama on Friday, the people responsible for mending healthcare.gov took much of the glitchy site offline for eleven hours of last-minute overnight repairs. They didn’t quite get everything done before the Obama administration’s self-imposed November 30 deadline — the site was taken down for several more hours last night — but a Sunday morning report from the Department of Health and Human Services announced that the online healthcare marketplace should now (mostly) run smoothly for the “vast majority” of visitors.
What does that mean, exactly? Healthcare.gov is now supposedly working 90 percent of the time, compared to October lows of 42.9 percent. The site’s pages are now loading in less than a second, compared to the late October average of eight seconds; and the pages only fail to load one percent of the time, compared to the pre-overhaul rate of six percent. The site is now said to be capable of handling 50,000 users at once, and a total of 800,000 visits per day. “The bottom line: HealthCare.gov on Dec. 1st is night and day from where it was on Oct. 1st,” said Jeffrey Zients, the adviser President Obama put in charge of the improvement effort. “We have a much more stable system that’s reliably open for business.”
But there is still work to be done to “to improve and enhance the website and continue to improve the consumer experience,” the HHS report warned. And unnamed officials reminded the Washington Post that they can’t be sure that the site will actually be able to deal with 50,000 people simultaneously “until they have that many users online in the coming days.” In case you forgot, the deadline to purchase coverage that begins on January 1 is December 23, which means that healthcare.gov’s new traffic-handling abilities will be put to the test pretty soon. As Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius pointed out earlier this week, Americans will be better off if they don’t apply their Black Friday tactics to the purchasing of Obamacare: Those who shop during off-peak hours will probably have the best chance of coming away with what they want.