More Americans use website, phone, on health care deadline

CHICAGO (AP) — The White House says traffic on the health care website has been high today, but not as heavy as yesterday -- when there were two million visits. That was the highest one-day total since the website went into operation.

Officials say error rates have been lower than one in 200, and pages loaded quickly, in less than a half-second.

Yesterday was supposed to be the last day for people to sign up for health care coverage in order to be covered on the first of the year. But the deadline was extended until today.

For a multitude of reasons -- including technical difficulties with the site or trouble understanding the instructions -- thousands of people have been seeking telephone help, and wound up waiting on hold today at the government's call center.

A Utah man said he and his wife, both students, had been trying for weeks to complete their application on the federal site, but were thwarted by computer error messages each time. Today, they reached a call center counselor who succeeded in enrolling them. The "silver" plan they chose will cost them $241 a month, after a tax credit.

Officials say more than 110,000 people had called the government's help line by this afternoon, with wait times averaging 27 minutes.

%@AP Links

160-r-04-(Sound of unidentified counselor, speaking with caller to DC Health Link call center)-"last name? OK..."-Sound of unidentified counselor speaking with a caller to a DC Health Link call center. ((Note: Washington D.C. is running its own health insurance marketplace and is not subject to the federal government's enrollment deadline.)) (24 Dec 2013)

<<CUT *160 (12/24/13)££ 00:04 "last name? OK..."

161-r-22-(Sound of unidentified counselor, speaking with caller to D.C. Health Link call center)-"look into it for you?"-Sound of unidentified counselor speaking with a caller to a DC Health Link call center. ((Note: Washington D.C. is running its own health insurance marketplace and is not subject to the federal government's enrollment deadline.)) (24 Dec 2013)

<<CUT *161 (12/24/13)££ 00:22 "look into it for you?"

APPHOTO NY122: FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, file photo, Rosemary Cabelo uses a computer at a public library to access the Affordable Health Care Act website, in San Antonio. Health care workers and officials in Texas on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, rushed to sign people up for insurance plans, even after receiving a one-day extension on a deadline for customers buying coverage under the new federal health care law to have their plans kick in Jan. 1. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File) (11 Dec 2013)

<<APPHOTO NY122 (12/11/13)££