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Health law sign-ups lagging as Saturday deadline looms

The HealthCare.gov website

Nearly 20 percent fewer new customers have signed up compared with a year ago, says the the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. | AP file photo

WASHINGTON — Government numbers show health insurance sign-ups for the Affordable Care Act are down with just a few days left to enroll.

That’s happening even though premiums are stable, consumers have more choice and millions of uninsured people can still get financial help.

The sign-up deadline is this Saturday in most states, for coverage beginning Jan. 1.

Barring a sign-up surge, the nation’s uninsured rate could edge up after a yearslong coverage expansion that has seen about 20 million people get health insurance.

A report Wednesday from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services shows nearly 20 percent fewer new customers signed up than at about the same time last year. New customers drive the growth of HealthCare.gov, helping keep premiums in check.

Next year there’s no penalty for being uninsured.