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Health Team

Some have success signing up for health coverage online

Posted December 9, 2013 7:40 p.m. EST

— The government's updated HealthCare.gov website has been getting mixed reviews, but many people are finally able to get online and sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

For 12 years, Heidi Dragon of Raleigh has been running her own business as a graphic designer, and she's been on her own when it comes to health insurance.

"As my health premiums have gone up, my coverage has gone down," Dragon said Monday.

She now pays $176 a month for what she calls a "bottom of the barrel" plan, so she started shopping on HealthCare.gov with the help of a federally trained navigator.

"We got through the application online – whizzed through it – so I'm not sure what everyone was talking about," Dragon said, referring to complaints about site delays that frustrated millions of people nationwide since early October.

She took about a week to compare plans and enrolled in one that provides better coverage than her current plan. With federal subsidies, her monthly premium for her new insurance will be $91 a month – a 48 percent decrease.

Dragon was so pleased with her experience that she decided to help Nancy Thomas, a friend who's self-employed as a photographer, find coverage through the online marketplace.

Thomas dropped her health insurance a year ago.

"I got back into my old mindset of where I thought, 'I really don't need health care. Why am I paying for this?'" she said.

Now, she's checking out her insurance options online. Like Dragon, Thomas' income will qualify for discounted premiums.

"Just the fact that I know that I'm going to be able to pay less and have a similar, if not better, plan, it just makes sense," Thomas said.