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More than 24,000 South Carolinians signed up for health insurance through the federal marketplace during the last three months of 2013, the government reported Monday.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the most detailed data to date about insurance enrollment since sign-ups started on HealthCare.gov on Oct. 1.

The number of Palmetto State residents who have successfully picked a plan is still meager compared to the estimated number without health insurance in this state — more than 700,000 by recent Census counts.

Of the 24,116 residents who selected a plan between Oct. 1 and Dec. 28 last year, Health and Human Services said 57 percent were female and 81 percent qualified for financial assistance to help pay for their policies.

Federal subsidies are available to offset the cost of insurance for many consumers who earn between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

Across the country, the government estimates 2.2 million people have enrolled in an insurance plan through the new federal marketplace or through state-based insurance exchanges.

Enrollment in December was higher than October and November because the federal website’s functionality was much improved and because residents needed to pick a plan by late December if they wanted coverage starting Jan. 1.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement that outreach efforts also have contributed to increased enrollment.

Enrollment on HealthCare.gov is open through the end of March.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.