With less than one week remaining before the final enrollment deadline on Jan. 31, about 8.9 million consumers have already signed up for health coverage through the HealthCare.gov platform or had their coverage automatically renewed.

Since November, 182,895 people in Alabama have already signed up.

“The clock is ticking with just [three] days left before Jan. 31, the final enrollment deadline for 2016 health coverage,” said Sylvia Burwell, U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services. “We are focused on making sure people know that financial help is available, the deadline is fast approaching and that we’re here to help them enroll – so that they don't risk having to pay a penalty of $695 or more for not having health insurance.”

The only way a person can sign up after the deadline is if they qualify for special enrollment.

“After open enrollment closes, a person may qualify for special enrollment if something big occurs in their life, such as losing health care from a job or a spouse's job, having or adopting a child, marriage or divorce, a significant raise or loss of income or becoming ineligible for health care from disability or Medicaid,” said ACA Navigator Jan Newhoff.

Having health insurance when you can afford it is now the law. If someone chooses not to buy health insurance and could afford to do so, they are at risk of paying a fee of $695 or more. Consumers are encouraged to visit HealthCare.gov to review and compare health plan options and find out if they are eligible for financial assistance, which can help lower monthly premiums and reduce out-of-pocket costs.

In the first month of Open Enrollment, 87 percent of Alabama consumers who selected health insurance plans were determined eligible for financial assistance to lower their monthly premiums.

There are three ways to enroll, otherwise, you must enroll in a private insurance of your choice. Newhoff said one way is by visiting HealthCare.gov. Also, call center representatives are available to help 24/7 at 1-800-318-2596 and consumers can find local help by visiting Localhelp.healthcare.gov.

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