SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California's health insurance exchange has a backlog of 25,000 paper applications that must be processed by Dec. 23 for the applicants to get health insurance starting in the new year.

Roy Kennedy, a spokesman for Covered California, said Monday some of the applications were from insurance agents who were unable to access the online portal in the first few days after the exchange opened on Oct. 1. He says the agency has added staff to help.

Still, the California Association of Health Underwriters says those workers are only entering basic information, and insurance agents are being asked to check the site several times a day for clients whose applications need to be entered.

Insurance companies also must bill the customers and receive payment by Jan. 1.