Affordable Care Act open enrollment deadline fast approaching

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If you haven’t signed up for health insurance for this year --- you’d better hurry up! The deadline is Sunday, January 31. And for those who don’t sign up for any insurance at all – you could be facing a hefty fine.

If you want health insurance in 2016, you’ve only got hours left.

And it’s an important deadline too.

Benefits kick in March 1 for those who make the deadline, and if you miss it, you’re going to have to wait until November.

Experts are expecting a much lower number of people signing up this year, but Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell said that it’s more in line with what she was forecasting.

“Folks predicted that we would see a large switch in employer based care to the marketplace and we just haven’t seen those numbers,” Burwell says.

Burwell and the rest of the Obama Administration are hoping for solid numbers this year, especially after a repeal by Congress at the beginning of the month.

“I don’t think many Americans what to go back to the fear that if you have a preexisting condition you could lose your coverage or that there are annual or lifetime limits,” says Burwell.

Burwell says you can find at least three choices for health care in each state, and that’s pretty good competition for consumers.

Senator John Hoeven, who supports a repeal and replacement of the law, says otherwise.

“It’s not enough we need more competition across state lines,” Hoeven says. “More competition in insurance rather than a federal approach creates better products lower prices better choices for our consumers.”

Regardless, he encourages anyone to sign up for insurance in whatever capacity they can.

And unless a Republican is elected to office in November, Americans will continue seeing open enrollment periods for years to come.

If you’re not comfortable signing up online, you can meet someone face to face. Just log on to localhelp.healthcare.gov and enter your zip code to get more information.