DALLAS -- Darin Brimberry took a break from creating coiffures to try to create an account on

'[It's] pretty frustrating,' he said. 'Can't get on.'

It was the same story in San Antonio, Houston, and across the country, where logging on to the federal health insurance marketplace was frought with long delays, error messages, or no response from the online chat center, which is supposed to be operational 24 hours a day, 7 days week.

At Parkland Hospital's Affordable Care Act online center, customer service agents ditched the online application in favor of good old-fashioned paper, which will be sent by snail mail.

After News 8 tried for hours Tuesday, operators at the national call center finally answered and told us the site was overloaded.

'I apologize for the inconvenience, but is experiencing a large load of callers and people trying to enroll all at once, and it is causing the servers to have some problems,' the operator said. 'You can check back every 30 minutes to see if site functionality is returning.'

After giving up, Salvator Marciante says he might risk the penalty and at least save himself some time, if not money.

Those signing up on the marketplace have six months to enroll. If you sign up by mid-December, you'll have coverage by Jan. 1.

Texas is offering 43 plans on the exchange. What, exactly, is in those plans and how much they cost is a tougher question, as few people have managed to get online to find out.

We'll have more on what we do know on air and online as it comes in.


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