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White House hopes email blasts will convince users to return to Obamacare site

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The Obama administration said Tuesday it will blast out emails this week to 275,000 users who got “stuck” on the federal Obamacare website during early attempts to enroll for coverage on the troubled system.

It is an attempt to win back uninsured Americans who could not register for an account on the front end of HealthCare.gov, the federal portal that is supposed to connect residents in 36 states with health plans.


SEE RELATED: Obamacare enrollment well short of expectations: report


The emails will “go out in waves” and target users who appeared to make an attempt to register or apply, but got hung up on a segment of the glitch-laden website, said Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Ms. Bataille said the team charged with repairing the federal portal made a series of fixes over the weekend, including the installation of two large storage units that should bolster the website’s capacity.

“The site is getting better each week, and by the end of November, it will be working smoothly for the vast majority of users,” Ms. Bataille said, standing firmly by the administration’s oft-repeated deadline to have the site running well.

Because the front end of the website is more stable, the administration wants to prove to dissatisfied customers they can now register without facing the bottleneck that wreaked havoc after the site’s Oct. 1 launch.

Ms. Bataille said CMS will release enrollment figures later this week from the federally facilitated and state-run health exchanges tied to Obamacare. However, she declined to confirm the accuracy of a Wall Street Journal report that put enrollment through HealthCare.gov at fewer than 50,000 people, or far short of the administration’s goal of 500,000 for October.

She said the figures will define an enrolled person as someone who has applied through an exchange and selected a plan — instead of someone who has made a payment for the coverage — because there is lag time between the plan selection and when a person has to pay the insurance company, so it would be difficult to tally up enrollees by that standard.

For weeks, the Obama administration has predicted that enrollment would start slowly and pick up speed by early December, when enrollees race to buy plans in time to gain coverage by Jan. 1.

But if slower enrollment trends continue because of Web glitches or a lack of interest in the exchanges, it could spell trouble for the president’s health care overhaul.

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