ORLANDO, Fla. - For many, signing up for health care hasn't been as easy as signing the Affordable Care Act into law, as President Barack Obama did in March 2010.
The commercials made it look simple, but frustrations, complications and aggravation were some of the early reactions to the healthcare.gov website.
“Those people are very right on,” said Rachel Steinberg, Director of Business Development for Orlando Health. “I mean, I work in the industry and I see I have 132 options to buy insurance. It's extremely overwhelming.”
It’s also time consuming.
“And yes, it takes a little bit of homework,” Steinberg explained. "A lot of homework, hours, sometimes, of analyzing the options.”
Rachel Steinberg's an expert. She helps businesses understand the Affordable Care Act in Florida.
“I've heard other technology folks say it’s easier to keep track of your fantasy football team online than your health care expenses, which is kind of funny because health care is very important,” she added.
Jason Altmire also is a health care expert. He was a Congressman when the Affordable Care Act passed.
“I voted against the law,” said Altmire, who now works for Florida Blue as its Senior Vice President for Public Policy, Government and Community Affairs.
Despite his opposition to the federal law four years ago, Altmire now says no matter what your political leanings are, the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. And while Altmire expects tweaks to be made to the law in the future, he reminds people that there are penalties for not signing up by March 31.
“Right now, all of us have an obligation to root for success and try to do what we can to help it succeed,” he said.
And Altmire insists Floridians are leading the way in terms of sheer percentages -- finding ways to navigate through the dozens of options under the platinum, gold, silver and bronze packages that are laid out online.
“Here in central Florida, you are going to have 100 options to choose from; different carriers, different plans offered by those carriers, different levels,” he explained.
So where do you begin if you need health insurance? First, go to healthcare.gov. Then, carve out some time. With all the options, you'll need to be patient.
“If you are wanting certain networks, than that can be the first way to guide you,” explained Steinberg with Orlando Health.
In other words, enrollees should check to make sure their preferred doctors or groups are included in the policies being considered.
Other factors to consider, according to Steinberg, include, “Is your family going to have a baby next year and making sure you have access to the hospital for your care.”
Overall, family health needs should be a big part of the health care equation as well, she added.
“It goes back to make sure you know what your family needs and that can help you guide your way through and find it,” Steinberg explained.
Remember, you can go back online next year. And based on how your coverage played out during 2014, you can make changes to your health plan selections.
“Because if you keep track, the next year when you go back to choose plans, it helps you understand what your needs are,” Steinberg said.
Experts and administrators admit the federal website still has flaws. But they feel confident it will continue to be improved and become easier to navigate.
Ultimately, they say it should be as easy to work and understand as the discount travel sites. It will help you select the best insurance that gives you the most bang for the buck, the experts insist.
“The way the exchange is supposed to work is sort of like Orbitz or Travelocity, where you can compare based upon price and access to certain providers that are important to you within your network,” Altmire said.