By Wyatt Andrews, Anna Werner, Don Dahler
The long-awaited opening of Obamacare was accompanied today by the long-threatened closing of the federal government.
Americans began shopping online Tuesday for health insurance on the new state exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act.
There were major problems all over the country. Websites were slow or crashed altogether, leaving a lot of folks angry and frustrated. The president noted that by 7 a.m., more than a million people had visited the main website: www.healthcare.gov.
"That gives you a sense of how important this is to millions of Americans around the country, and that's a good thing," President Obama said. "We're going to be speeding things up in the next few hours to handle all of this demand that exceeds anything that we had expected."
The millions of people flooding the system on healthcare.gov cause the website to briefly brake under the strain, causing it to go from "apply now" to "please wait" to "please try again later," reports CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews. (Watch Andrews' full report above.)
The website is currently used by 34 states.
Several states running their own exchanges also had delays. In Washington state the website closed down.
Administration officials said the federal site was overwhelmed by 2.8 million visitors -- a number they never expected. White House senior adviser David Simas said the problems drew an all out response from website technicians at the Department of Heath and Human Services.
"We expected a slow ramp up and what we saw today was an overwhelming response that exceeded even what we've seen in Medicare in any given day," Simas said. "So it was a good start. We identified problems, tomorrow is going to be better."
Despite the delays and inconvenience, the White House argued the high numbers were a sign of intense interest in Obamacare. California alone saw 1.7 million hits on its website in the first hour; Connecticut reported 130,000; and Maryland had 87,000.
What the administration is not reporting is how many people enrolled on Tuesday. Some of that is because officials won't know until people sign a contract with an insurance company and make a down payment.
Read more at http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57605567/healthcare.gov-plagued-by-crashes-on-1st-day/