By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new report from federal health officials says 81,000 Pennsylvanians have signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. That’s an increase of more than 600-percent from the November report.

By the end of November, while the bugs were still being worked out of the problem-plagued sign-up website, just 12,000 of the estimated half-a-million Pennsylvanians eligible for coverage had enrolled. The new report shows nearly 70,000 signed up in the month of December.

“It’s quite a leap forward,” says Bill England, state director of Enroll America, an independent non-profit that helps people sign up.

He says he expects the numbers will continue to climb through March 15th, the deadline to avoid penalties for not enrolling.

“This continues to be a historic opportunity for people who don’t have insurance or have inadequate insurance,” says England.

England says three-quarters of those who’ve enrolled are receiving financial assistance for the plans. Just one quarter is in that desirable 18-to-34 age range. The majority are over 45. More women than men have enrolled.

Watch & Listen LIVE