HARRISBURG - The number of Pennsylvanians signing up for insurance under the 2010 federal health-care law surged after February and soundly beat the government's expectations for the state, according to figures released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The report, which showed figures for all states through March 31, included people who finished their enrollment process in April after starting it in March.

In New Jersey and Delaware as well, many more residents than expected signed up for the federally run health insurance exchange.

HHS said about 318,000 Pennsylvanians had signed up for coverage through the federally run online insurance marketplace, doubling the total of nearly 160,000 from the end of February. Signups beat projections by 54 percent.

The health insurance plans were accessible to Pennsylvanians through Healthcare.gov, and people with low to moderate incomes were eligible for a tax credit to help subsidize the cost.

About four in five Pennsylvanians who signed up received the taxpayer-subsidized help, the department said.

The rush in March smashed the Obama administration initial projection that 206,000 Pennsylvanians would sign up during the enrollment period for the year, which began Oct. 1 and ended March 31.

The Pennsylvania Health Access Network, a Philadelphia-based group that supports the federal law, said it was excited about the news.

The number of signups is about one in five Pennsylvanians who are estimated to have been uninsured. Census figures say 1.5 million out of 12.8 million Pennsylvanians were uninsured in 2012.

The new report didn't include information on how many of the newly enrolled have actually paid their insurance premiums. With grace periods for enrolling extending into mid-April, many who have signed up weren't obligated to pay until this week.

A report released Wednesday by House Republicans said 67 percent of people who had signed up through federal marketplaces had paid their first month's premiums as of April 15, far lower than payment rates reported by some individual insurers.

Fifty-four percent of those who signed up were women and 46 percent were men, the department said. Half of the enrollees were 45 to 64 years old, while 14 percent were 25 or younger and 36 percent were 26 to 44, it said.

Pennsylvania is relying on a federally run online insurance marketplace, like 35 other states, because Gov. Corbett declined to take on the task.

The federal government said nearly 162,000 people in New Jersey registered before the deadline last month. That's 69 percent more than projected last year.

Delaware exceeded its goal by 76 percent, with 14,087 enrollments.

Nationally, eight million Americans chose a health plan in the new insurance markets in the first year, the department said.

Signups across the country were also higher than expected - but only by 13 percent.