With two-and-a-half weeks left before the Affordable Care Act's first open enrollment period ends, the federal government said Tuesday that 4.2 million Americans have signed up for coverage under the health care law.

Some of them have begun paying for their insurance policies and some have not, according to a new report published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The South Carolina-specific numbers in that report are similar to data already released by the S.C. Department of Insurance.

Approximately 55,000 residents in this state selected a marketplace insurance plan between Oct. 1 and March 1. South Carolina Insurance Department Director Ray Farmer said Monday that his agency estimates that only about 37,000 of them have paid their first month's premium.

That first payment is required before customers can start receiving benefits under the new policies.

The federal report shows that 58 percent of South Carolina customers who have purchased plans are female, and that 86 percent of customers qualified for a subsidy to help pay for the coverage.

Open enrollment for private insurance plans available on HealthCare.gov ends March 31 and will re-open for 2015 health plans on Nov. 15.

Nationwide, health insurance enrollment through the federal marketplace was slower in February than it was in January. Officials estimate that enrollment will pick up during March.

"Now, during this final month of open enrollment, our message to the American people is this: you still have time to get covered, but you'll want to sign up today - the deadline is March 31st," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a release.

In an separate marketing push, President Barack Obama made headlines Tuesday when he appeared in an online comedy sketch with "The Hangover" star Zach Galifianakis to promote health insurance enrollment on HealthCare.gov.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.