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State's health insurance exchange deadline nears

  • 9/8/2013: A1:

    PC: New Sonoma County benefits eligibility workers study the details of the Affordable Health Care Act at a training center off Airport Blvd in Santa Rosa Aug. 30, 2013. The walls are lined with posters bearing information for workers. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

With a March 31 deadline to sign up for health insurance under Obamacare fast approaching, state and local health care officials say now is not the time to procrastinate.

Officials with Covered California said Friday that the daily flood of health insurance enrollees will likely be in the tens of thousands in the last days of the month. There are already about 10,000 state residents signing up for health coverage daily through the state health exchange.

In the last month before the Affordable Care Act's first enrollment deadline — which was Dec. 23 for coverage that began Jan. 1 — nearly 400,000 people signed up for a plan through the state-run health insurance marketplace.

At times, the enrollment rate hit 20,000 a day back then, said James Scullary, a spokesman for Covered California.

"Don't wait until March 31 because we saw what happened in December when the demand was enormous," said Scullary. "It's our own little version of March Madness."

There are actually two open enrollment deadlines this month. The first lands Saturday for those who want their coverage to begin by April 1. The last deadline is March 31 for coverage beginning May 1.

The regular enrollment window then closes until next fall.

Abraham Daniels, who is leading Sonoma County's outreach and education efforts around Obamacare, said there are a number of avenues, both at the state and local levels, for getting insured. These include enrolling:

; Through an enrollment counselor at a local community health center.

; Through an insurance agent listed on the Covered California website.

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