68K sign up during ObamaCare’s extra period

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More than 68,000 people have signed up for healthcare during ObamaCare’s extra enrollment period so far this year, the federal government announced Monday.

People who lack insurance have 10 more days to buy coverage through the federal marketplace to avoid next year’s penalty, which will rise to at least $325 a person.

{mosads}The Obama administration announced in February that it would give people a second chance to buy coverage if they learned about the fee for the first time while paying their taxes.

While officials had not said how many people they expected to sign up during the special enrollment period, the current tally is a small fraction of the administration’s previous estimates that as many as 6 million people could pay the penalty.

The enrollment period runs from March 15 to April 30. About 36,000 people had signed up during the first two weeks of the enrollment period.

“We hope uninsured tax filers take the next few days to learn about the options and financial assistance that is available and to enroll in a plan that meets their needs — rather than taking the risk of choosing to get by without insurance for another year,” CEO Kevin Counihan wrote in a statement.

This year is the first time that ObamaCare’s individual mandate penalty goes into effect. Critics had complained that ObamaCare’s original deadline was Feb. 15 — several weeks before the end of tax season on April 15, which meant some people may not have known about the 2015 tax until it was too late to sign up.

Lack of awareness about the ObamaCare penalty has been a major problem for the administration: A survey of uninsured people earlier this year found that about half of people knew nothing or little about ObamaCare’s penalties.

The 2014 fee amounts to $95 a person or 1 percent of household income. Next year’s fee will rise to $325 per person or 2 percent of household income.  

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