A half million Americans signed up for Obamacare

Obama administration releases figure amid flurry of criticism of the health care law's insurance exchange websites

A pamphlet for the Affordable Care Act sits on a table at a branch of the Metropolitan Family Health network, on October 3, 2013 in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Roughly half a million Americans have applied for health insurance through new federal- and state-run exchanges under President Barack Obama's signature health care law, an administration official said Saturday.

That figure comes as problems with, the federal marketplace's entry portal serving 36 states, have thwarted consumers from shopping for federally subsidized health coverage and drawn derision from Republicans, who oppose the law, popularly known as Obamacare.

The acknowledgement of the number of applicants, late on a weekend evening, appeared to be part of a ramped-up damage control effort by the White House.

The Obama administration hopes to get 7 million people enrolled for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act by the end of March. But the website was hobbled by technical issues — including error messages, garbled text and delays loading pages — that administration officials blame partly on an unexpectedly high volume of 14.6 million visitors in its first several days of activity.

Obama is holding a healthcare-themed event at the White House on Monday where he is expected to address problems with the website.

Members of his administration plan to travel the country to encourage people in areas with high levels of uninsured to apply, an official said, and call centers were getting more staff to deal with phone calls from applicants who have trouble getting through online.

Al Jazeera and Reuters

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