HealthCare.gov moves sign up deadline to 1:59 AM Tuesday

The HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015. Consumers shopping on the government’s health insurance website should find it easier this year to get basic questions answered about their doctors, medications and costs, according to an internal government document. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is giving consumers a few extra days to sign up on HealthCare.gov in time for health insurance coverage to take effect Jan. 1.

The new deadline is 11:59 p.m. Pacific time or 1:59 a.m. our time on Monday, Dec. 19, says Kevin Counihan, CEO of the federal health insurance markets.

The unexpected extension was announced after close of business Thursday. Counihan said it’s due to strong interest.

The old deadline was Thursday.

The Obama administration has set a goal of signing up 13.8 million people for 2017, a modest increase. So far enrollment is running about on par with last year, but the share of new customers is down.

Open enrollment ends Jan. 31.

President-elect Donald Trump and the GOP Congress have vowed to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law.