Jeff Zients, chief performance officer and deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, who was brought in to oversee the faltering website, said in his weekly update the website needs to process the millions upon millions of unique circumstances that consumers present.
It needs to determine eligibility for hundreds of state- and county-level programs and all their permutations, and to factor in subsidy levels based on family size, income and plan selection, he said.
"This is much more than a website for browsing or conducting routine transactions. With that context, and the capacity we will have by the end of the month, this means the system will be able to accommodate more than 800,000 visits a day from consumers who are seeking information, filling out applications, shopping and enrolling," Zients said. "We have two objectives: addressing capacity shortfalls and managing volume and improving user experience. Both are necessary to support the president's goal that every American has access to affordable quality health coverage. In terms of capacity, HealthCare.gov will be able to operate at the capacity that was originally intended: a rate of approximately 50,000 users on the site at the same time."
The vast majority of users will not experience error messages, slow response times and system outages that troubled the website when it went live Oct. 1, Zients said.
"While there will not be a magic moment at the end of the month when the work will be complete, users coming to the site today are already having a greatly improved experience," he said. "The site will be better at the end of the month than it is today, and it will continue to improve thereafter."
He said HealthCare.gov was stable this week, except for an unscheduled outage on Wednesday and a short period Tuesday.
"In terms of the site's error rate, last week we reported it was 1 percent," he said. "This week, we've driven it down to .75 percent. As a reminder, a few weeks ago the error rate was 6 percent."