(Bloomberg) -- The Obamacare insurance exchanges struggled to handle a flood of consumer interest that closed the U.S. website for much of the day, and caused start-up delays for most of the marketplaces run by the states.

In New York, officials said the exchange had 2.5 million visitors in the first half hour and California reported seeing as many as 10,000 hits a second. While Republicans pounced on the breakdowns as evidence the law doesn’t work, President Barack Obama said the volume “gives you a sense of how important this is to millions of Americans.”

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