Obamacare first-person series: Real people, real stories

It's easy to read headlines and pontificate about what signing up for a health-care plan under the Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as "Obamacare," was really like. But nothing tells the story like patients themselves. In this first-person series for CNBC.com, patients share their stories.

An interesting thing happened when we started this series back in November. We thought we'd get a lot of stories about trouble with the website, and we did, but what we didn't expect was that the stories started pouring in about patients who thought they were going to get to keep their insurance, as the president assured them, only to find out it was canceled. The headlines on these op-eds suddenly became about the outrage over cancellations, not website troubles. We learned that here, from real people, before we read it in the news. That's the real value of first-person stories. Early on, we took some flak for having all negative stories. The truth is, it's a lot easier to find people who complain than people who want to talk about a good experience they had. But, we did eventually find patients on both sides. Here are their stories, in their own words.

Health care Obamacare
YinYang | E+ | Getty Images

Thank you, President Obama, for health-care reform (By Martin Gewirtz, Jan. 8, 2014)
Martin Gewirtz is a 58-year-old man who has been unemployed for nine months and says he needs affordable health insurance since his insurance expired on Dec. 31. He has several chronic conditions, including back pain and sleep apnea. He had some trouble signing up for new health care through the Affordable Care Act New York State marketplace but overall sees health-care reform, and his experience, as positive.

I like Obamacare—but don't call it that (By Wally Graff, Dec. 16, 2013)
Wally Graff, who owns IT-consulting firm CLG Consultants in Chicago, suffers from a blood cancer called polycythemia rubra vera and his wife has diabetes. He says prior to the Affordable Care Act, they were pretty much uninsurable. They think the ACA is a good reform — and that it will help save them a lot of money on health-care costs.

Cancer patient: I'm devastated over Obamacare (By Joan Carrico, Dec. 11, 2013)
Joan Carrico, a 60-year old registered nurse who has been fighting cancer for the past six years, first shared her her Obamacare experience with CNBC.com in November ("Cancer patient: I'm losing my insurance"). She liked her insurance policy but unexpectedly received a cancellation notice with the implementation of the ACA despite the president's assurances that "If you like your plan you can keep it." And, like many others, she had trouble logging on to the HealthCare.gov website. Since the writing of that first post, the president granted a one-year extension for those who received cancellation notices and the website improved. In this update, she shares the latest in her quest for new health insurance.

Small-business owner: Insurance canceled: A message to President Obama (By Jay Patel, Nov. 2, 2013)
Jay Patel, an independent wealth advisor at Raymond James Financial Services in Wheaton, Illinois, is one of millions who received a cancellation notice for his health insurance and tried to sign up in those first few days. His experience left him with a very strong message for President Obama.

Retired executive: I can keep my health insurance? Not true! (By Stephen Hamilton, Nov. 4, 2013)
Stephen Hamilton, a 63-year-old retired executive from Gross Pointe Woods, Mich., liked his insurance and hoped he could keep it but was one of the millions who received a cancellation notice and had to start scrambling for new coverage. Then, he found out he'd probably have to pay a lot more for the new plan.

Want to be part of our first-person series on Obamacare? Send an email with a short description of yourself and your experience to our commentary editor, Cindy Perman, at cindy.perman@nbcuni.com.