Providing info of my experience for anyone who may find it useful:
1) My original plan was the cheapest offered by Kaiser. I was paying $178 a month. I received a letter from Kaiser stating my plan would no longer be available as of January 2014. I would have to pick a new plan. The new plan that compared closest to mine would now be $282 per month.
2) On Kaiser’s website they had a section where you could see if you qualified for a subsidy under the Affordable Care Act. This handy tool generated an estimate. I did qualify for a subsidy and my estimate determined that my new $282 plan would only cost me approximately $108 per month.
3) I was curious as to why my $178 plan was no longer an option. Were health insurance companies hiking up their rates because between me and the ACA subsidy they could get more money?
4) I decided to wait until November before officially signing up for my new plan because like any new online service that gets a sudden influx of users, I knew the servers would get slammed out of the gate. However, since I’m in California I did not need to use Healthcare.gov. There is a state exchange to apply for the ACA plans called CoveredCA.com
It took me a few hours to apply thru CoveredCA.com. During the process I did experience two or three website errors. The error pages on the site provided a link that made it easy to get back to the previous page to continue my application.
However, the biggest delay was my own doing. I haven’t had consistent employment in 2 years so officially determining my yearly income took some time. I clicked on CoveredCA.com live chat button to ask a few questions. I was put in a queue that estimated my wait for assistance would be about 20 minutes. The screen would constantly update my position number in queue and an estimate of my wait time. My wait did take about 20 minutes as stated.
5) The live chat person was very helpful. I was able to estimate my yearly income and complete that portion of the application. However, I had problems with uploading some of the proof of income documents they required. Two of them uploaded with now problem. Two didn’t. I tried them again the next day and they still wouldn’t upload.
6) Shopping on the exchange I found many healthcare plans that were cheaper with the subsidy than the plan Kaiser had to offer. However, since I like my doctor I decided to stay with the Kaiser plan. My final monthly insurance bill will be $114. A few dollars more than the estimate but not by much.
For what it’s worth. Not a flawless experience but not a major disaster either.