The effective date of much of the federal health care law means millions of people have new insurance starting Wednesday.
Coverage in the Obamacare marketplace was effective Jan. 1, 2014, for some 2.1 million people who had purchased plans by the end of the year.
Brian Raabe of Madison has been out of work for more than a year following a back injury that he needs surgery to fix. He was unable to get or afford insurance, both for financial reasons and a preexisting condition. He purchased a plan on Healthcare.gov this month and said the coverage he has starting Wednesday "a godsend."
"In my case, and I don't know how many other people are like me out there, it is the best thing for the new year I could possibly have," Raabe said.
Raabe was able to purchase a plan that will cost him $271 a month after a $116 federal subsidy. He said because of the surgery he needs, the insurance will easily save him $65,000 in out-of-pocket costs this year alone.
But he is concerned about the cost of the plans for others like him. He is still unemployed and said if it weren't for a workers' compensation settlement for his injury, he wouldn't be able to afford the monthly premium.
"If somebody is living paycheck to paycheck and now half or all of a paycheck has to go to something that they weren't incurring before, it needs to be more affordable," Raabe said.
He is also one of the 80,000 people who possibly could have gotten on Badgercare starting Wednesday, but now won't be able to until April under changes at the state level. Even if that eligibility changes this spring, he said he'd like to stay in his current plan as long as his finances allow it.