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Health Insurance Deadline Extended Amid Surge Of Applicants

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.

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 is editor in charge of health news at KCUR, the public radio station in Kansas City. Dan joined KCUR in April 2014. In a long and varied journalism career, he has worked as a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star and Reuters. In a previous life, he was a lawyer. He has also worked as a media insurance underwriter and project development director for a video production firm.