By 10 a.m., however, with the number of concurrent users running around the “mid 30,000s,” well below the government's own self-imposed target capacity of 50,000 simultaneous users by Nov. 30, the tech team monitoring the site's rising response times and error rates invoked a queuing function to alleviate strain “due to demand,” Bataille said.
Users placed in the queue would be sent e-mails inviting them back to the site when usage levels were lower.
During the first 12 hours after midnight Monday, average response times—such as the time it takes a page to load—increased to more than 2 seconds, Bataille said, while error rates—such as page crashes or freezes or pages generating error messages—averaged 0.9%.
As late as Sunday, federal officials said they believed they had met their goals, oft-stated throughout the month of November, that the site would be “running smoothly” for the “vast majority” of users by Nov. 30, and that it would be capable of handling 50,000 concurrent users and as many as 800,000 visitors a day.
Turning on the queuing function, she said, was “an intentional decision to ensure that those using the system would be successful in going through it and have an optimum experience using it.”
Bataille did not say how many users were sent into a queue Monday.
Officials claimed significant progress, meanwhile, on another strain of bugs afflicting the site: those traced to inaccurate communications between it and health insurers in messages using a government customized implementation specification of the ASC X12 834 electronic enrollment messaging standard.
Working with insurers, Bataille said, HealthCare.gov developers fixed a glitch that was responsible for more than 80% of those errors because it prevented Social Security numbers from being accurately reported. Updates to the system have also fixed 834-related problems in which a spouse was not recognized in the communications between the website and payers, or a child was reported as a parent.
(An earlier version of this story reported that CMS spokeswoman Julie Bataille said HealthCare.gov error rates were "over 9%" early Monday. She had actually said error rates averaged 0.9%. We regret the error and have corrected the figure above.)
Follow Joseph Conn on Twitter: @MHJConn