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Obamacare call center reps get password reset script by mistake

By CNN Staff
updated 6:56 AM EDT, Fri October 11, 2013
  • Obamacare call center reps were provided with an incorrect script
  • Script mistakenly said that all passwords needed to be reset
  • Officials say enrollees can continue to use their current passwords

(CNN) -- If you contacted the federal Obamacare call center early Thursday morning, you may have been told that your password for needed to be reset. But that is not the case, officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services say.

Consumer passwords for the Obamacare website have not been reset, HHS officials say, but call center representatives were mistakenly given that incorrect information.

"A wrong script was provided to call center representatives," one HHS official told CNN. "It's been corrected. The wrong script was read for only a short time -- just this morning."

ArsTechnica, a technology new and information website, first reported that people were being told to reset their passwords on Tuesday, October 8.

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A second HHS official said enrollees can continue to use their current passwords.

The federal site for the Affordable Care Act has been plagued by technical glitches since it launched on October 1. Many of the consumers looking to sign up for health insurance the first day didn't get very far. They were often greeted by a message that said:

"We have a lot of visitors on the site right now. Please stay on this page. We're working to make the experience better, and we don't want you to lose your place in line. We'll send you to the login page as soon as we can. Thanks for your patience!" is handling Obamacare enrollment for 36 states that didn't fully establish their own insurance exchanges, also called marketplaces.

Federal officials blamed higher-than-expected traffic volume for the first day glitches -- on October 1, some 4.7 million people visited and 133,000 contacted the call center at 1-800-318-2596.

But for the last 10 days, visitors to have continued to experience slow connection speeds and error messages preventing them from purchasing insurance. HHS has been taking down parts of the site during off-peak hours to make improvements by adding more server capacity; moving certain over-stressed components to dedicated hardware; and making software changes to increase efficiency.

A specific software component that crashed under the high volume of visitors is mainly to blame for the glitches, a federal official confirmed to CNN on Tuesday.

"At lower volumes, this software component would work fine, and at higher volume, that's what created the problems," the official said. "We've made software changes to make the system more efficient and be able to handle higher volumes."

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen, Adam Aigner-Treworgy and Jacque Wilson contributed to this story.

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