There have been millions of American across the country signing up for health insurance plans via the federally mandated exchanges, reported the United States Department of Heal

There have been millions of American across the country signing up for health insurance plans via the federally mandated exchanges, reported the United States Department of Health and Human Service on Wednesday.

The period for new enrollment ends on January 31.

The figures that are being mentioned include people signing up both as newcomers as well as those that are automatically re-enrolled in their previous plans.

Officials are anticipating that a surge of enrollments will take place at the last minute if the pattern from years previous holds. Those signing up now will have their coverage start on March 1.

The enrollment is just one part of the overhaul of the country s health insurance that was triggered by the Affordable Care Act.

Officials from the federal government caution consumers that not buying insurance will prompt a penalty that is heftier this year than last, rising to $695 for an individual, which is more than double that of 2015.

Penalties for uninsured children increase to $347.50 a child with a total maximum per household of $2.085. In 2015, the maximum penalty was $975.

Penalties typically are collected through calculations made in income tax filings.

An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that on average a family this year would pay a penalty of $1,000.

The sharp increase in penalties is part of the way to sway young, healthier people to enroll for insurance. Officials said.

In years previously, the penalties were not seen that much as a deterrent when weighed against making monthly premium payments, especially if the clients thought they were not in need of health insurance.

Enrolling young, healthy adults is the key to the healthcare act, as they will tend to pay more for premiums than insurers will pay in claims.

A larger risk group of healthier policyholders helps to balance out those who tend to be sicker or to use the health insurance services more often.

Nationwide close to 8.9 million people signed up for plans or re-enrolled.