More than 68,000 people have signed up for Obamacare during an extra enrollment period tacked on two months ago – a tiny fraction of the estimated 6 million who face a higher fine for going without coverage, The Hill reports.
There's still 10 more days to buy insurance through the federal marketplace to avoid next year’s $325 penalty.
The Obama administration announced in February it would give people a second chance to buy coverage if they learned about the penalty 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 latest tally is a far cry from the Obama administration’s previous estimates that as many as 6 million
could pay a penalty.
"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," HealthCare.gov CEO Kevin Counihan said in a statement, The Hill reports.
This is the first time the individual mandate penalty takes effect; critics had groused the original sign-up deadline Feb. 15 caught people by surprise, making it too difficult to sign up and avoid the higher penalty.
A survey of uninsured people earlier this year found about half knew little or nothing about any penalties attached to the healthcare reform law.
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