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California's health insurance exchange is holding firm to its enrollment deadline today for customers who want coverage beginning at the start of the year, officials said Monday.

Earlier in the day, the White House announced the federal deadline was being delayed 24 hours -- from 11:59 p.m. Monday to 11:59 p.m. Tuesday. Officials said they made the move for customers as part of a good-faith effort to ensure those who needed coverage by Jan. 1 would be able to log-in and sign up.

California, which operates its own health insurance exchange, said customers must act Monday.

"They really need to be active today if they want coverage Jan. 1," Covered California spokesman Oscar Hidalgo told The Bee.

However, if a customer begins their application late Monday and is not able to finish it until into Tuesday they still will be honored, Hidalgo said.

Those who want their coverage for doctors' appointments and prescription drugs to start next month must pay their first premium by Jan. 6. The next enrollment deadline is Jan. 15 for coverage to begin Feb. 1. For those customers, a payment is due Jan. 28.

Enrollment has picked up in recent weeks as the deadline approached. Executive Director Peter V. Lee estimated the number of enrollees at roughly 400,000.

Open enrollment extends through March 31.

Updated at 12:55 p.m. to incorporate projected enrollment figures.

PHOTO: The executive director of Covered California, Peter V. Lee, speaks to members of the media during the launch of Covered California in Rancho Cordova on Oct. 1, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton.


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