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Californians have until April 30 to buy health insurance

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People who have not yet bought health insurance under the federal health law have until this Thursday to comply and avoid a full-year tax penalty. 

The second enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act actually ended back in mid-February.  But the government gave procrastinators until April 30 to get coverage; to qualify, they must attest that they first became aware of the tax penalty for having no coverage when they filed their 2014 taxes.

The extension applies to plans sold on the state's exchange,  Covered California, and to those sold directly by insurance carriers. 

Note: Those who get in under the wire will still have to pay a penalty on their 2015 taxes for going without health insurance for part of the year.  The amount will be pro-rated, based on the number of months the individual went without coverage.

Policies bought in the last two weeks of this month take effect on June 1.

Finally, those who opt to go without health insurance for the entire year - and who don’t have a legally valid exemption to do so - will face a tax penalty of either $395 or 2 percent of their income, whichever is greater.

An earlier version of this story stated the second enrollment period ended in mid-March. It ended in mid-February.