Enrollment in health insurance plans on the troubled HealthCare.gov was very small in the first two days of operation, with just six Americans signing up after the first day and 248 by the end of day two, according to documents released on Thursday by a U.S. House of Representatives committee.
The Obama administration has said it cannot provide enrollment figures from the health care website because it doesn't have the numbers. The federal website, where residents of 36 states can buy new health care plans under President Barack Obama's signature law, was launched on Oct. 1.
"We do not have any reliable data around enrollment, which is why we haven't given it to date," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told lawmakers Wednesday.
But the documents, which are labeled "war room" notes and appear to be summaries of issues with the problematic website beginning on Oct. 2, indicate a mere six people had enrolled by that morning – the day after the website was launched and almost immediately crashed.
"High capacity on the website, direct enrollment not working," the notes said. By later that day, "approximately 100" enrollments had taken place.
"As of yesterday, there were 248 enrollments," said notes from the morning of Oct. 3.
The documents were released by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has been demanding information from the administration about the website's problems. The committee is chaired by Representative Darrell Issa, a Republican opponent of Affordable Care Act – often referred to as Obamacare.
The notes were from meetings at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the arm of the Health and Human Services Department that has been overseeing the website, a spokeswoman for Issa said. The documents were first reported by CBS News.
Health and Human Services spokeswoman Joanne Peters said the department will release Obamacare enrollment statistics on a monthly basis after coordinating information from different sources. This will include call centers, paper applications for insurance, and data from insurers and states. The first release of enrollment data will likely be mid-November, she said.
"These appear to be notes, they do not include official enrollment statistics," Peters said of the documents Issa's panel released.
"As the secretary (Sebelius) said before Congress, we are focused on providing reliable and accurate information and we do not have that at this time ... We have always anticipated that the pace of enrollment will increase throughout the enrollment period."
The Obama administration said it has brought in experts from top technology companies including Google and Oracle Corp to fix the website, as Republicans press for details about the botched launch.