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Friday is last day for ‘Obamacare’ signups

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Friday is the last day to sign up for health insurance on the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

So far, 26,366 New Mexicans have enrolled in the program as of Dec. 9. Last year, 23,078 had signed up over a similar time frame.

It’s unclear whether the jump reflects increased interest in the marketplace or the shorter enrollment period. This year’s enrollment window was half as long as last year’s three-month period, which ended Jan. 31.

About 55,000 New Mexicans signed up for marketplace plans in 2016.

Executives at BeWellNM, New Mexico’s health care exchange, have said they expect a surge of sign-ups in the enrollment period’s final days.

Nationally, 4.7 million people have signed up for plans through the Affordable Care Act, which is also known as Obamacare. Last year, about 4 million had signed up over a similar period.

In addition to shrinking the enrollment period, the Trump administration has cut certain subsidies to health insurance companies that cover low-income people; slashed the consumer outreach budget by 90 percent; and planned outages of the federal marketplace website, Healthcare.gov, during peak enrollment times. The administration argues the act represents an overreach of government powers.

The Senate tax bill approved this month eliminates the penalty for those who choose not to enroll in health insurance. The House and Senate are now working on a final version of the bill.

According to BeWellNM, about 50,000 New Mexicans are eligible for income-based tax credits that would render their plans either free or reduced in cost.

More information about New Mexico’s marketplace is available on BeWellNM.com or by calling 1-833-ToBeWell. A plan comparison tool is available through the Office of Superintendent of Insurance at OSICompareHealthPlans.org.

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