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Busy First Day For New Federal Healthcare Program

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - After years of build-up, the Affordable Care Act's main component, insurance exchanges, went live at midnight Tuesday.

October 1, 2013 was a day long-awaited, and long-dreaded, by many across the U.S.   The Affordable Healthcare Act is now in the books and people everywhere signed up the first day, including here in South Florida.  But the day had its share of problems, among them the program's website crashing several times because of high-demand.

President Obama said more than one million people visited the healthcare site before seven in the morning.

Federally-trained "navigators" are working at several locations in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, helping people figure out the confusing, overwhelming system.

Several employees of the Epilepsy Foundation have become certified navigators.  You don't have to be a member of the Foundation to go for help.  Suzanne Soriano went to see someone at the Foundation to explore her options.  She already has insurance coverage from a previous employer.  But, it's temporary and costly.  Soriano pays a whopping $455 a month for an HMO plan.  "I kinda wanted to see what the navigators would say is my best option," she said.  "It's confusing and I would like to have more clarity."

Navigator Nini Hadwen said nearly four million people in Florida have no health insurance.  It's one of the states with the most plans for you to choose from, with more than 100 plans right now.  And each company's plans have four levels.

"Platinum, gold and bronze and then catastrophic health plans," explained Hadwen.  "Depending on what medal level, how much you wanna pay out of pocket  for your premium, you'll get a different Blue Cross plan, or Aetna or Cigna or whatever health company you're looking for."

Hadwen said that understanding the system and choosing your best health insurance option is so overwhelming and confusing, her best advice is to avoid the headache and go see a navigator.  Especially with the website crashing, even slowing down navigators a bit themselves.

There were several locations across South Florida including:
Adler Conference Room 1200 NW 78 Avenue, Suite 109, Miami, FL 33126 1 pm - 5 pm
Ft. Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce 512 NE 3rd Avenue, 2nd Floor, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301 9 am - 1 pm
African American Research Library & Cultural Center 2650 NW 6 Street, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33311 2 pm - 6 pm

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