- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 11, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - More than 25,000 Nebraskans have signed up for private health insurance through the federal government’s website, according to a report released Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released new enrollment data from Oct. 1 through March 1. The report says 25,582 Nebraskans have selected a plan.

More than one-third of those enrollees were age 34 or younger, according to the report. More than one-fourth of them were between ages 55 and 64.

Statewide, more than 54,300 Nebraska residents are eligible through the federally facilitated marketplace. The number enrolled at this point still falls short of the state’s goal of having 32,000 signed up by the end of February.

Nationally, about 4.2 million people have enrolled in plans using the federal website. Approximately 31 percent of those nationally were age 34 or younger.

Nebraska is among 36 states relying on the federal website to enroll residents in the health marketplace, which is part of the federal health care law. Gov. Dave Heineman rejected a state-run marketplace as too expensive and inflexible.

Two groups in the state - Community Action of Nebraska and the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska - have received federal grants to hire and train insurance “navigators” who work to draw people into the marketplace and walk them through the process. People also could sign up through the website, hospitals, private insurance agents or federally funded health care clinics, or use the website on their own.

Uninsured Americans have until March 31 to sign up for a health care plan under the federal health care law.

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