Healthcare.gov up and running

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SARASOTA, FL--- The health insurance marketplace roll out was off to a slow start.

"People couldn't get all the way through the application process," said Linda Stone with the Sarasota County Health Department. 

The agency has designated counselors to help residents get insurance from the market place, but website issues kept them and millions across the country from completing that process.  But, Stone says all that has changed.   "We and the consumer have felt much better about the fact that we can go from A to Z and get it completed.  People know what there eligible for, they know what their tax subsides will be, So I think you have a more satisfied customer," added Stone.

 A similar trend is being experienced in Manatee County.

"We've actually seen a steadily increase in those inquiring about completing an application and we've to this point help over 300 individuals finished that application," said Bill Colgate with Manatee County Rural Health Care.

According to the Obama administration the site is now accessible 90% of the time.  That number's up from just over 40% when it launched back in October.  And, now that the web site is fixed officials say they are bracing for a big rush.

 "We expect those inquire to apply for insurance to increase. We're full staffed for it, we have 8 certified application councilors and even have extended hours for those who cant make it during the usual 8-to 5," added Colgate.

Officials say the site can now handle more than 50,000 users at a time and 800,000 a day.  And Stone says there is also contingency plan if user capacity surpasses those numbers.  "If there are more than that then it says we have a lot of visitors please hold on and then they redirect people to someone who can help them", added Stone.

The application deadline for coverage that starts on January 1st is December 23rd, market place open enrollment closes on March 31st.