As the March 31 deadline approaches to buy health-insurance plans through Your Health Idaho, the exchange reports 43,861 Idahoans have signed up so far.
That was a 33 percent increase from a month ago, according to spokeswoman Jody Olson.
"We're encouraging people not to wait until the end of open enrollment ... [to] start that process, because sometimes it takes a couple of days to complete," she said.
Officials for the state exchange expect a last-minute rush of people buying plans. The Affordable Care Act requires Americans to have insurance coverage, and the deadline to sign up in time to avoid a tax penalty is March 31. After that, Idahoans who don't have health insurance can be taxed $95 or 1 percent of their income, whichever is greater. The penalties are paid next year, when people file 2014 taxes.
Many Idahoans could be exempt from that penalty, though. Click here to see who qualifies for an exemption.
There was a similar crunch of eleventh-hour signups prior to Jan. 1, when people wanted to get signed up in time to have insurance coverage this year.
The exchange allows people to buy insurance with subsidies, which lower premiums for people whose income is under 400 percent of the poverty line. Some consumers can qualify for cost-sharing to help with out-of-pocket costs, such as co-payments.
People can buy plans outside of the exchange, but they cannot receive premium subsidies for those plans.
Audrey Dutton: 377-6448, @IDS_Audrey