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Deadline to sign up for health coverage without penalty on the horizon

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Officials from MNsure are urging Minnesotans who have yet to buy health insurance through the exchange to hurry and sign up by March 31.

Under the Affordable Care Act, most uninsured people are required to get health coverage by April 1, 2014 or face a fine of $95 on their 2014 tax returns. In 2015, that fine increases to $325, and it eventually rises to $695 by 2016.

To help uninsured Minnesotans find health insurance by the end of March, MNsure officials say there are more than 650 places across the state where people can get face-to-face assistance signing up for a plan.

The 2013 Minnesota Health Access Survey estimates there were approximately 445,000 Minnesotans without health insurance in 2013, compared to 490,000 in 2011.

And as MPR News reports, fewer than half of all Minnesotans under age 65 are familiar with how the federal health care law will affect them in 2014. Only 36 percent of those who lack health insurance said they had enough information.

Officials with MNsure are hoping Minnesotans will seek more information about the new health law before the end of March.

"Our goal is to make sure that people have the help they need to enroll,” said interim CEO Scott Leitz. “Although the fastest and most efficient way to enroll is through MNsure’s online marketplace, a lot of people just do better when they have someone who can personally walk them through the process. That is what our ‘March to Enroll’ push is all about, making sure that everyone has access to the help they need.”

Leitz says enrollment opportunities are being provided by so-called "navigator" organizations certified to help individuals and families enroll in health plans through the MNsure marketplace.

Some key deadlines:

-Minnesotans who want health coverage beginning April 1 have until Saturday, March 15 at 5:00 p.m. to enroll and pay for health plans through MNsure. The March 15 deadline does not apply to Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare.

-Monday, March 31, is the final deadline to make plan selection and payment for coverage starting May 1, 2014. This is also the last day of open enrollment and the last day to enroll in health insurance inside or outside of MNsure before the next open enrollment period begins on November 15, 2014, without facing a tax penalty.

Here's a list of enrollment opportunities from the MNsure website, and a promotional video from MNsure:

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