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Signup Period for Health Insurance on Federal Marketplace Ends Sunday

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Veronica Zaragovia/KUT
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U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell visits Austin on Feb. 13, 2015, two days before the deadline to sign up for health coverage on the federal marketplace.

Ahead of Sunday's deadline, officials say consumers are stepping up enrollment for 2015 coverage under President Barack Obama's health care law. The President's top health official was in Austin Friday to encourage more Texans to enroll.

Texas still has the highest rate of uninsured people in the U.S.  – almost one out of four people is uninsured. But federal officials are optimistic that more people are signing up. Last year, it was about 733,000 people that got insurance through the federal marketplace. This year, it's 1,015,772 so far.
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U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell would like to see more people sign up before the deadline on Sunday.

"We've made solid progress, but folks who know me know that I won't be please until that numbers go higher," she said. "Certainly here in Texas we still have a large number of people who aren’t covered, and wanna do everything possible we can in the last days to urge and encourage those folks to come in and see, shop and make the choices and find out that they can find affordable insurance."

About 86 percent of Texans who’ve signed up have qualified for tax subsidies that make the monthly premium cheaper.

Texas state leaders, however, do not support expanding Medicaid eligibility in Texas, a key component of the Affordable Care Act. Burwell mentioned her department's latest success when Indiana's Gov. Mike Pence agreed to expand Medicaid eligibility, and said she hopes to have discussions with Gov. Greg Abbott about coming up with a way that "works for Texas."

This Sunday, Feb. 15, is the final day to enroll, but people have until the end of the month to pay the premium in order to avoid a tax penalty.

For in-person assistance, Foundation Communities has several centers with certified application counselors.

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