HHS also said a major software component became “overstressed,” preventing many consumers from accessing the site and signing up for accounts. That component has since been moved to dedicated hardware from “virtual machine technology,” a move that has eased the bottleneck, HHS said.
“Wait times have been significantly reduced and more people are logging on and applying,” HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters said in an e-mailed statement. “But we won't stop until the doors to healthcare.gov are wide open, and at the end of the six-month open enrollment, millions of Americans gain affordable coverage.”
HHS has yet to provide enrollment figures for the federal marketplace.
Meanwhile, many state-run exchanges have seen smoother starts and fewer glitches than the federal system. Covered California, for instance, had 987,440 unique visitors to its state exchange site between Oct. 1 and Oct. 5, according to data. More than 43,000 applications are underway, with 27,305 at least partially completed.
California's exchange did run into some technical issues on the first day of open enrollment, but after some brief downtime spent optimizing the site, traffic is running fairly smoothly, Covered California spokesman Roy Kennedy said.
“Things are going very well so far,” Kennedy said. “We're exceeding expectations.”
Washington State's exchange, Washington healthplanfinder, had logged 165,332 unique visitors, more than 10,000 applications and 9,452 completed enrollments as of Oct. 7.
“The number of applications we've received is a strong start to our six-month open enrollment period,” said Richard Onizuka, the exchange's CEO, in a news release. “While we've seen a high level of initial interest, we know that many individuals will continue to shop and wait to purchase a health plan until much closer to the effective start of coverage on Jan. 1, 2014.”
Kentucky's state-run exchange, viewed by many to be among the most successful so far, reported that nearly 173,000 people had completed pre-screenings for coverage. Of those, 26,753 visitors had started applications and 18,351 had completed the application process. Officials said the exchange had 8,462 enrollees for individual coverage as of 11 a.m. EDT on Wednesday.
Follow Maureen McKinney on Twitter: @MHMMcKinney