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Covered California, the state's health insurance exchange, is experiencing a significant surge in enrollment, officials said Thursday.

More than 53,500 customers selected health coverage plans in the last three days - about 60 percent more than the entire month of October when the exchange opened for business.

That includes 20,506 customers Wednesday, 19,351 Tuesday and 13,653 Monday, Executive Director Peter V. Lee told reporters. He said the increases illustrate how hundreds of thousands of residents are "anxious, excited and determined to get coverage."

The exchange has not released monthly projections, but estimates between 500,000 and 700,000 subsidy-eligible customers will obtain coverage by the end of the initial enrollment period March 31.

"Given the rate at which people are applying, I think we could easily exceed those projections, but we aren't done," Lee said.

The exchange also has expanded its marketing, doubling spending on outreach to the Los Angeles market and on Latinos and Spanish-language speakers. Officials boosted their efforts after preliminary data showed most of those enrolling in coverage were doing so in English.

Customers face a Monday deadline to enroll in plans in order to receive coverage by Jan. 1.

PHOTO: Enrollment operators take phone calls during the launch of Covered California in Rancho Cordova on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton



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