By Pat Warren

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — While Americans around the country scramble to meet the deadline to sign up for Affordable Health Care coverage to start Jan. 1, Marylanders have until Friday. The insurers in Maryland’s Health Care Exchange agreed to extend the deadline for those who want coverage in January until Dec. 27.

Political reporter Pat Warren has the latest on the efforts to get signed up.

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The Maryland Health Connection website has been a source of frustration since the launch on Oct. 1.

“With all its problems, it was like changing tires on a rolling car, but it is working a lot better and it has worked for 42,589 people,” said Governor Martin O’Malley.

Dwayne Henderson is not one of them.

“Saturday about 6 p.m. I tried the local site; the local site was not working. I went to the federal site; the federal site said I was ineligible to apply because Maryland has its own exchange,” he said.

Forty percent of Marylanders enrolled in Affordable Health Care enrolled last week, according to the governor, but many like Henderson couldn’t sign up.

“I reapplied at 11 p.m. on a Sunday, thinking that the volume should not be a problem. Unfortunately, I got the same response asking me to reapply,” he said.

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WJZ made several attempts to access the website early afternoon and received a “service unavailable” message. Later Monday afternoon, it was up again.

“Is it perfect? Nope, not perfect. People still get caught? Yep, sure do. People get lost? Not if I have anything to say about it and we’re going to go after every person we can find to help get them through this system,” O’Malley said.

“I’m ready, willing and able. I have not been able to sign up,” Henderson said.

And Henderson, like others, does not expect to be able to make the Friday deadline for coverage starting Jan. 1.

The best advice is to keep trying. Meanwhile, consider applying by telephone or paper application.

Friday is the deadline for coverage starting in January. You still have until March 31 to sign up before federal penalties kick in.

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