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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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October 4th, 2013
07:22 PM ET

Obamacare glitches like Apple's? Not hardly

By CNN Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper

If House conservatives hadn't decided to go after Obamacare, resulting in the government shutdown, the big story this week might have been how Obamacare staggered out of the gate.

The main website where Americans can shop online for health insurance, healthcare.gov, which 36 states rely on along with some other state websites, were buggy, glitchy, and slow. Some crashed altogether.

It's been like trying to score tickets to the Stones, guess you can't always get what you want.

A key feature on the website will be taken down during early morning hours this weekend for maintenance, officials said on Friday.

There have been a few White House responses to the problems. One is the "high demand" argument.

President Barack Obama also responded, comparing the major operating problems to issues with Apple products.

"Just a couple of weeks ago, Apple rolled out a new mobile operating system, and within days, they found a glitch, so they fixed it. I don't remember anybody suggesting apple should stop selling iPhones or iPads," President Barack Obama said.

To that, Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein, who is in general an enthusiastic supporter of the Obama administration, today wrote, "The Obama administration doesn't have a basically working product that would be improved by a software update. They have a web site that almost nobody has been able to successfully use. If apple launched a major new product that functioned as badly as Cbamacare's online insurance marketplace, the tech world would be calling for (Apple CEO) Tim Cook's head."

So how bad have these glitches been? Tough to say. Mainly because trying to get concrete enrollment numbers from the White House has been impossible.

Almost four full days after the launch, officials are still able to offer all sorts of numbers about the federal healthcare.gov website – unique visitors, web chats requested – but they claim they simply don't know how many have enrolled, and reject any suggestion they're stonewalling because the numbers are low.

Another way the president has defended the roll out is by citing Kentucky's successful state-run exchange.

"In Kentucky alone – this is a state, I didn't win Kentucky. So I know they weren't doing it for me. In Kentucky nearly 11,000 people applied for insurance in the first two days. Just in one state, Kentucky," Obama said Thursday.

The blue-grass state has seemed to figure it out, despite some early glitches. Unlike dozens of other states, it does not use the federal government's crash-prone Obamacare site, and so far more than 16,000 Kentuckians have started applications, with almost 11,000 completed.

The Wall Street Journal looked into why Kentucky has been so successful and credited intensive testing of the system beforehand, along with a focus on function over flair.

While CNN could not get numbers for the federal site, for the 24 states that have their own exchange, CNN could only confirm – based on the states that could provide data – that around 52,000 insurance applications have been started online.

CNN looks forward to the White House sharing more information about the president's signature legislative achievement.

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