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Best of Our Blogs: $34k for 12 days of Christmas; Obamacare sign-ups

If you tried to buy all of the items in the carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” the price tag would total more than $34,000, up slightly over last year, according to PNC Bank. 072514 Christmas in July 2

PNC on Thursday released its annual “Christmas Price Index,” which found that a set of gifts in each verse of the song would set you back $34,363.49 in stores, an increase of 0.7 percent from last year.

The increase was driven by “price increases for the Turtle Doves due to lack of availability, and wage increases for the Drummers and Pipers,” PNC said.

Buyers looking to purchase all the items each time they were mentioned in the song (a total of 364 gifts) would spend $156,507.88, according to PNC.

To get the latest holiday shopping news, from deals to mall hours to Santa photos, visit Holiday 4-1-1 at:

— Jennifer Sorentrue, Malled!

Obamacare sign-ups outpace last year despite uncertainty

Florida leads the way with 514,000 people signed up for coverage on as more Americans have selected 2017 coverage through the Obamacare marketplace than did so by this time last year, officials said Wednesday — even as the health law’s future remains uncertain at best under a new administration that vows to repeal and replace it.

More than 2.1 million people have selected plans since open enrollment began on Nov. 1, an increase of 167,000 over the same point last year, federal officials said. The outgoing administration has urged consumers to enroll by Dec. 15 for coverage that starts Jan. 1.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in a statement, “I continue to encourage all Americans who need health insurance for 2017 to visit and check out their options.”

So far this year, Florida has more than twice the number of sign-ups as No. 2 Texas among states that use the federal exchange.

Incoming administration and congressional officials have been discussing how long a grace period to give people to continue using marketplace plans if they repeal the law or vote to remove its funding. Federal subsidies help keep monthly premiums below $75 for about 80 percent of Florida consumers using the federal exchange, and about 9 in 10 get subsidies of some kind.

News that President-elect Trump will nominate Georgia congressman and staunch Obamacare foe Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services was widely seen as a signal the incoming administration is lining up behind the complete dismantling of Obamacare, not a compromise “fix” or makeover. During the campaign, Trump repeatedly vowed to “repeal and replace” Obamacare.

— Charles Elmore, Protecting Your Pocket

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