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Obamacare signups only took 'minutes,' Kathleen Sebelius tells Senate panel

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified before the Senate Finance Committee, where she continued to defend the ongoing problems with the rollout of healthcare.gov. (Photo: Graeme Jennings/Washington Examiner)

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius downplayed the initial wait times for the healthcare.gov website Wednesday, claiming the process only took users “minutes” during the first weeks.

Sebelius, testifying before the Senate Finance Committee, described to the panel the improvements that have been made to the Obamacare exchange site since its Oct. 1 launch.

“In the first few weeks after healthcare.gov launched, users had to wait an average of eight seconds for pages to load. Today, it typically takes less than a second,” Sebelius said. “A month ago, viewing and filtering health plans took minutes. Today it takes seconds.”

That's an interesting claim, considering only six people were able to sign up on the website on the first day, leaving 40,000 people in a “waiting room,” according to administration notes obtained by NBC.

Whether only six people signed up due to frustration from long wait times or because the insurance costs were too high is unclear, but from the instances of initial glitches, it seems more likely that the low number was due to long wait times.

But consider Janice Baker, who was touted by HHS for being the first successful enrollee in Delaware. What HHS failed to mention was that it took Baker 11 days to sign up for health insurance.

She tried to sign up on the website, but it kept failing, and when she tried to sign up over the phone, the navigator’s computer would freeze.

Then there was MSNBC's Mara Schiavocampo, who tried to log in to the site on the first day, but kept getting error messages and eventually gave up.

Reporters at CNN were also unable to sign up due to glitches, as was Fox News' Steve Doocy.

Despite millions of people visiting the website, nearly 500,000 applications have been filed through federal and state exchanges, according to the White House.