Health Exchange Day One: A View From California

We'll hear how things went in California Tuesday as people started to sign up for insurance in the Affordable Care Act.

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PAULINE BARTOLONE, BYLINE: I'm Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento.

California, like Colorado, has been full speed ahead in creating its own health insurance marketplace. Melissa Martinez has been looking forward to using it. She works at home as a consultant. She also lives with an autoimmune disease.

MELISSA MARTINEZ: This last bout of insuring myself it was about $600 a month, and my meds - because I have lupus - are about $600 a month. And so I had to pick one or the other. So I let my insurance go.

BARTOLONE: So for the past three years, Martinez says she's been paying out-of-pocket to see her doctors and buying her prescriptions from Canada. When she logged on to Covered California's website, it moved slowly but she was able to enter her information.

MARTINEZ: There's three of us and I've definitely been working about a quarter time.

BARTOLONE: Martinez is 41 years old and made $30,000 this past year because of her illness. When she finished entering her information, a handful of plans popped up on the screen. She said the Silver Plan looks right for her, it has a $500 deductible and is just over $100 a month.

MARTINEZ: A hundred dollars a month versus 600 is amazing. It really is.

BARTOLONE: Martinez says she's excited about signing up for coverage. She says it's been terrifying to be uninsured, not so much because she has lupus but because she fears about unknown future health events.

For NPR News, I'm Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

These stories are part of collaboration with NPR, local member stations and Kaiser Health News.

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