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Health

Health Insurance Deadline Extended Amid Surge Of Applicants

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The government has extended until Thursday the deadline to sign up for health coverage starting Jan. 1 under the Affordable Care Act.

Government officials said a surge of people selecting plans over the two days before the original Tuesday deadline led to the extension. One million people left contact information after encountering delays logging onto the healthcare.gov website or reaching call centers, the officials said.

The new deadline is 11:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (1:59 a.m. Central Standard Time) Thursday. The final deadline to enroll for coverage starting March 1, 2016, is Jan. 31.

The White House estimates there are still 112,000 people in metropolitan Kansas City without health insurance who are eligible for marketplace coverage under the ACA.  

Kansas City is one of 20 communities vying to see which can sign up the highest percentage of uninsured. As of Monday, Milwaukee, Detroit and Philadelphia led the pack. Kansas City was not among the top 10.

Kansas City residents seeking information on health insurance can call United Way's 2-1-1 hotline or visit CoverKC.org, according to a release Wednesday from Mayor Sly James’ office.

Most people eligible for enrollment qualify for tax subsidies to reduce their monthly premiums. People who can afford health insurance but fail to obtain it face a penalty of $695 per adult or up to 2.5 percent of household income, whichever is higher.

Dan Margolies, editor of the Heartland Health Monitor team, is based at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.

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