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The Obama administration says more than 610,000 people in North Carolina signed up for private health insurance coverage during for the third year of President Barack Obama's health care law

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RALEIGH, North Carolina — The Obama administration says more than 610,000 people in North Carolina signed up for private health insurance coverage during the third year of President Obama's federal health care law.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday announced the tally after the enrollment period ended January 31.

Last June the federal agency said there were nearly 460,000 North Carolina residents paying for policies they bought on a federal marketplace for policies.

The increase this year may have come because consumers faced a sharp increase in fines for staying uninsured. This year's penalty will rise to $695 or 2.5 percent of taxable income, whichever is higher.

Many Republicans, including the GOP presidential candidates, remain committed to repealing the law known as the Affordable Care Act.

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