Right-wing media have used temporary technical glitches exacerbated by a flood of interest to demagogue against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges. In reality, the technological issues are caused in part by high levels of traffic, which demonstrate that millions of Americans are signing up for the health care program.
As the ACA's new health insurance exchanges launched on October 1, millions of Americans visited health exchange websites, prompting an overload of Internet traffic that contributed to technical glitches. According to White House Deputy Senior Adviser David Simas, healthcare.gov has logged 1 million visits in the past day, a rate that already dwarfs the number of visits ever received by medicare.gov:
The primary website to enroll in new coverage options under ObamaCare has gotten 1 million visits in the past day, according to a White House official.
David Simas, a White House deputy senior adviser focused on ObamaCare implementation, said healthcare.gov has logged 1 million visits in the past day. The volume of Web traffic has overwhelmed the new marketplaces, which opened for enrollment Tuesday morning.
“1 million visit HealthCare.gov in last day. 5x more users than ever on Medicare.gov at once. Millions want to #GetCovered,” Simas said on Twitter.
Web traffic on state exchange websites tells a similar story. Connecticut's health insurance exchange received 110,000 hits Tuesday and had 764 active applications in its first 25 minutes. In the District of Columbia, 1,500 DC residents had created accounts within the first 90 minutes of opening.
However, right-wing media were quick to jump on the problems, declaring them a sign of the law's shortcomings rather than its popularity.
On Fox News' America's Newsroom, host Martha MacCallum remarked, “How's that working out?” as contributor Peter Doocy baselessly stoked fears that Americans may not have time to sign up before the December 15th deadline.
Later on Fox News' Happening Now, host Jon Scott documented delays and error messages in the rollout of the ACA exchanges, ignoring the heavy web traffic that caused them.
Right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh was quick to follow suit, declaring the delays “an absolute nightmare,” and blaming the Obama administration for not anticipating the popularity of the exchanges:
LIMBAUGH: You're used to going to Amazon, and if you want to go buy a Kindle book, it takes five seconds, period. And this is what people are accustomed to. They're accustomed to these websites just working. The websites are never shut down, and if they are, it is a big deal. And normally if they are it's because they're down for maintenance, or maybe there's just a huge demand or load on them, but there ought not be any excuse for these websites to be unreachable! How can you not expect there to be a huge load, how can you not plan for that! But everybody who has gone to healthcare.gov today has run into an absolute nightmare. That has taken a lot of time, and most of them have been kicked out of their attempt to get an account and register, and they've been sent to what is essentially the back of the line.