So,, the website for our state's health insurance exchange, is finally working (at least for me), and when it does work it appears to work well. After entering my zip code, gender, birth date, and income, the site quickly returned a list of 38 available plans, ranging from $192/month (after tax credit) for the least expensive "bronze" plan to $498/month for the most expensive "gold" plan. If I want to keep my current doctor (who is with The Polyclinic), my choices are slightly more limited: 27 plans starting at $248.

The information provided is thorough and well presented, and makes it easy to compare three plans at a time, side-by-side. The sample cost breakdowns for pregnancy and managing type 2 diabetes are particularly useful for comparing the relative benefits in a real world scenario. For example, the cheapest bronze plan would cost me only $2,303/year in premiums, but an additional $5,350/year for standard diabetes treatment due to the high deductible, for a total of $7,653/year. A silver plan from Group Health would cost me $3,895 in premiums, plus another $1,900 in out of pocket expenses for diabetes treatment, for a total of $5,795/year. The most expensive gold plan would cost me $5,972/year plus $1,080/year for diabetes treatment, for a total of $7,052 year. If I were a 50-year-old, non-smoking male with type 2 diabetes earning a piddling alt-weekly salary, that silver plan would be the obvious winner of the three.

As for the costs of the plans under Obamacare and the relative value they provide, as somebody who had purchased health insurance on the individual market for much of my adult life, and had been gradually priced out of affordable coverage, this is definitely an improvement. And thanks to the federal tax credit, at my income level, it gets even better if I add on a dependent: $117/month for the two of us for that low-cost bronze plan, the same $325/month for that Group Health silver plan, $595/month for the most expensive gold plan. This could be a real boon for low and middle income families who currently don't have insurance through an insurer.

One observation though: the deductibles on the offered plans were all relatively high. Even some of the gold plans had $1,500 deductibles. I personally may have used over $1,500 a year in health care services only once or twice in my adult life, so for me, this is definitely insurance, not some sort of health care freebie that would incentivize unnecessary care. But for folks with more extensive health care needs (and I presume I'll get there as I age)—and especially for folks who previously would have been excluded due preexisting conditions—these new plans will be welcome.

The application process is a bit more onerous—a lot of information I didn't have at my fingertips. But overall, I'd say my initial impression of both Obamacare and are positive. If you've had a chance to check out the site, what do you think?