"Obviously we'd hoped that things would have started off on a better foot, but like many other programs ramp-up is often difficult," he said. "The good news is that clearly progress is being made — and people do want coverage."
The revamped federal website, HealthCare.gov, serves 36 states, but it continues to have issues and enrollment is lagging well behind projections.
Nationwide, the enrollment statistics show 364,682 American had signed up for private coverage by Nov. 30 under the federal health law. That's less than one-third of the 1.2 million people officials had originally been projected to enroll nationwide by the end of November.
Heather McCabe, an Indiana University assistant professor of social work at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, said the low enrollment numbers point to the need for research into why so many eligible people have not applied for coverage through the exchange.
McCabe, an expert on the health care law, said the question is whether many people are turned off by the problematic website, don't know they're eligible to use the exchange or have found that they can't afford the premiums they are seeing on the exchange.
"If the answer is that people still don't understand what the exchange is and how to use it then we need to educate and help people better access the system," she said. "But if the answer is that the premiums are too high then we have an issue that's a little more difficult to deal with. We can't advocate that insurers lower their premiums."