MONTPELIER (AP) -- People who have signed up for health insurance through the Vermont Health Connect website should pay their bills as soon as possible to ensure their coverage is in place by Jan. 1, health officials said Monday.

About 20,000 people have selected plans through Vermont Health Connect, and Department of Vermont Health Access Commissioner Mark Larson reached out to ensure the switch to the new insurance program on Jan. 1 will be as problem-free as possible.

"Over the next week, we are prepared to work with Vermonters to ensure their transition into a Vermont Health Connect plan is as smooth as possible," Larson said.

Midnight Monday was the deadline for people to sign up and be eligible to receive subsidies and be covered for Jan. 1.

About 10,000 of the people who have signed up did so in the last two weeks, Larson said.

And to be covered on Jan. 1, customers’ payments of their bills must be postmarked by the dates on the invoices.

People whose payments are processed after Jan. 1 will be covered, but they may have to pay any medical bills upfront and then be reimbursed by their insurance companies.

And to avoid problems, people are being urged to fill any needed prescriptions before the end of the year.

People who apply after Monday can still get insurance coverage for Jan 1, but without subsidies. For those who are eligible, the subsidies would become available Feb. 1.