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What You Need to Know About Obamacare in California

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Obamacare, or Covered California as the health exchange is known here, has begun as of 8 a.m. this morning. Of course, questions still abound, including how much will it cost and how long it takes to sign up.

So far, it seems like it will save some people a lot of money but signing up can be a bitch. Several users reported the site was extremely slow.

How do I sign up?
Go to the Covered California website, click on the resources tab and the "shop and compare" tool to compare plans. Or call Covered California at 1-800-300-1506.

How long does the process take?
At least one user reports it took him three hours to complete the process: Angeleno Andrew Stryker told the Washington Post, "Obviously three hours is a long time to wait, but it will save me over $6,000. For that, I would have waited all day," Styrker said. He had been paying $600 a month for individual insurance through COBRA for the last four years. He has high blood pressure and has been denied coverage by other companies.

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How much will it cost?
Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, explained to ABC 7 that the insurance prices will vary as it's a different model than traditional insurance. "It's not based on your health condition," he said. "It's not based on whether you smoke. It's not based on a whole range of factors that up until now determined your ability to get health care and what it costs. It's based on how old you are, your income and where you live."

When does coverage start?
January 2014.

What's the deadline to sign up?
Americans have until March. To be covered as of January 1, 2014, you have to purchase coverage by December 15, 2013.

What if I don't sign up?
You will be fined 1 percent of your annual income or $95.

What if I still can't afford it?
In an email statement, State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said, "There are premium subsidies available to help those below certain income levels to afford coverage."

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How many people have already enrolled?
An AP reporter tweeted this afternoon that Covered California initially reported that 30,000 people had signed up for the coverage, then amended that estimate to 6500. Officials do not expect a rush of applications because people will be taking their time to compare plans and fill out the application, ABC reports.