Signing up for Obamacare: ‘It will save me over $6,000. For that, I would have waited all day.’

October 1, 2013

The Affordable Care Act's new insurance marketplaces, where individuals can shop for individual health insurance coverage, opened Tuesday morning. Throughout the day, we'll be talking to people about their experiences trying to sign up on day one.

It took three hours, but Andrew Stryker managed to be among the first people to purchase health insurance through Obamacare's new insurance markets.

Stryker is 34 years old and lives in Los Angeles, where he now does freelance work. He pays a monthly premium around $600 to stay on the COBRA plan from a job he left four years ago. He has high blood pressure and says insurance companies have previously denied his applications for coverage on the individual market.

"I figured this might cut my premiums in half and I'd be getting better service for half the price," he says.

Stryker first logged into California's marketplace, Covered California, at midnight last night. He couldn't get the site to load, so he tried again around 8 a.m. today.

"It let me access the page and start signing up," Stryker says. It was not, as some have predicted, as simple as buying a plane ticket. "I would equate it to filling out a credit card application. The format was pretty clear. It wasn't too complicated."

The biggest problem, Stryker says, was that the Web site was slow. He would get through a step and then the screen would freeze. The whole process took three hours but, by the end, Stryker had a new health insurance plan.

"It's a silver level PPO," he says. "I did the research probably about a month ago, went through all the plans and compared them to my current one. I found one that I liked, so I signed up for that today."

Asked what he did to keep busy while signing up, Stryker says he was mostly watching television if the computer froze for a bit.

"I’ve been watching the news about the government shutdown," he says. "Obviously three hours is a long time to wait, but it will save me over $6,000. For that, I would have waited all day."

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Brad Plumer | October 1, 2013