Obamacare open enrollment ends at midnight

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The clock is ticking if you need to sign up for insurance through the government marketplace.

There may be talk of its repeal, but until that happens, the Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land.

The law, now in its fourth year, requires all Americans have health insurance or face a fine of at least $695 (or 2.5 percent of income, whichever is greater.

When the clock strikes midnight on January 31, the open enrollment period will close on the healthcare.gov marketplace. To date, more than half a million people in North Carolina have already signed up.

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"What we know is that it's good health insurance and you can get help with the cost of it," said Jennifer Simmons, a lawyer with North Carolina Legal Aid. "Enrollment has grown every year since the program started."

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, at least 533,232 people in North Carolina have signed up through the marketplace for 2017, and the number is expected to top 600,000. At least 21 percent of those who signed up this year did so for the first time. The data shows 55 percent of users are ages 18-55 and 56 percent are female.

Nationally, more than 11.54 million Americans are signed up for health insurance through the marketplace, including 2.6 million new applicants. DHHS data shows 63 percent of users are ages 18-54, and 54 percent are female.

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