Obamacare deadline sparks final surge towards 7m target despite website crash

Last day for Americans to register for cover causes website to crash - again

The final day for Americans to sign up to President Barack Obama’s healthcare programme sparked a frantic last-minute surge that crashed the government’s notoriously cranky website on Monday.

Despite this, US officials believe they have reached their original target of seven million sign-ups set by the Congressional Budget Office.

Monday was the last day for people to register for the Affordable Healthcare Act or face a financial penalty after the online exchanges were introduced six months ago.

More than six million people had signed up for private health coverage through the new Obamacare insurance markets by last week.

But even after months of rushing to fix the federal Obamacare website after its disastrous roll-out last October, it still crashed yesterday.

The healthcare.gov website was down for at least four hours early on Monday morning amid an eleventh-hour surge of interest from consumers. However, analysts believe the final tally could approach or even exceed an original goal of seven million after the last-minute rush to obtain cover.

"We admittedly had just a terrible start because the website wasn't working, and despite losing effectively two months, we are going to be reasonably close to that original projection," Mr Obama said in a CBS Evening News interview that was recorded last week and broadcast on Monday.

Read more: Obamacare: When is the deadline – and why is it important?

In Houston, prospective enrolees lined the streets outside of special city offices to obtain the private insurance coverage, which comes with federal subsidies for low-income households.

People also crowded in health centres across Florida as navigators and others trained to assist with online enrolment struggled with the website's access problems.

"It's been very, very, very busy. But the website issues haven't been bad, and people realise they've waited until the last minute," Andrew Behrman, chief executive officer of the Florida Association of Community Health Centres said.

"What can I tell you? It's like a last-minute sale," he said.

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