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By Noam N. Levey, Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — The federal government’s online health insurance marketplace stumbled Monday as tens of thousands of Americans streamed to the HealthCare.gov website seeking to beat a midnight deadline for enrolling in coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Technicians were able to get the site back online after it went down in the early morning hours Monday, according to federal officials.

But by midday, visitors to the site were getting an automated message alerting them that high volumes made it necessary to wait to set up an account or enroll in coverage.

The automated queuing system, which was also deployed in December when there was a rush of consumers to get health coverage, allows users to enter their email address to be alerted when they can access services.

“There are a record number of people trying to access HealthCare.gov right now — more than 100,000 people concurrently in the system as of noon,” Health and Human Services Department spokeswoman Joanne Peters said in a statement.

Across the country, health clinics, community organizers and others also reported a crush of consumers Monday. In some places operating enrollment events, lines stretched out the door.

To date, the Obama administration has reported that more than 6 million people have enrolled in coverage on the new state and federal marketplaces, which are designed to help Americans who do not get coverage through work.

HealthCare.gov is the main portal for consumers in 36 states to select coverage on marketplaces created by President Obama’s 2010 healthcare law.

Fourteen states and the District of Columbia are running their own websites, some of whom have been performing well, others barely at all.

Americans have until midnight Eastern time to begin enrolling in health coverage on the marketplaces before the open enrollment period closes for this year.

But the Obama administration and many states officials have indicated that consumers who start the process by the deadline Monday night will still be able to complete them into April.

AFP Photo/Joe Raedle

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