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Final push is on to get ACA plans in place for Jan. 1 coverage

The 2015 open-enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act’s online marketplace runs until Feb. 15, but if you want your plan to kick in Jan. 1, Monday is the last day to apply.

The online marketplace, at HealthCare.gov, is where Illinoisans are supposed to be able to shop for more affordable health insurance plans for 2015, with the help of tax subsidies.

Consumers can purchase a health insurance plan via the marketplace only during the open-enrollment period, which ends Feb. 15 — unless you qualify for special enrollment after that date.

Insurance purchased from Dec. 16 through Jan. 15 will take effect Feb. 1; coverage purchased from Jan. 16 through Feb. 15 will kick in on March 1.

Almost 1.4 million people nationwide have selected a health insurance plan during the first three weeks of open enrollment, the federal government said. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services noted that the third week of open enrollment had roughly double the number of applicants as in week two. About half of those were new consumers; the rest were people renewing coverage.

Officials at Get Covered Illinois, the state-run health marketplace, have said they will hold several enrollment events through Monday for people to sign up. To find locations or a navigator near you, go to getcoveredillinois.gov.

“Whether you are enrolling in health coverage for the first time or you are comparing your current plan against new options, now is the time to act,” Jennifer Koehler, executive director for GCI, said in a statement.

Individuals who make between $11,670 and $46,680 are supposed to qualify for a tax credit to help pay their premiums, if purchased through the marketplace on HealthCare.gov. A family of four would qualify for a subsidy if they earn about $23,850 to $95,400.

Whether those tax subsidies remain legal in Illinois and other states is a matter being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court, in a case argued this year. A ruling is expected in mid-2015. In the meantime, the Obama administration has said consumers would continue getting tax credits, but has declined to say what would happen if the court ruled against the subsidies.

Of the more than 217,000 people in Illinois who bought a health plan on the online marketplace, 77 percent got help to pay for the health insurance, the federal government has said.

Consumers who bought a plan in 2014 are supposed to receive an auto-renewal notice enrolling them in the same 2015 insurance plan or a comparable plan. That plan would be active Jan. 1.

State officials, though, have encouraged consumers who bought a plan last year to peruse the marketplace again, because there are more options for coverage now.