also has a group health policy blog in partnership with Kaiser and an FAQ page where readers can ask questions of a local professor, both of which are worthwhile even if I found them a bit underwhelming. And last Sunday, the Inquirer profiled a local woman with serious medical needs who’s been working with a “certified marketplace enrollment specialist,” though the article was a little light on detail to serve as resources to other readers.

But a few good articles aren’t enough. There are lots of pieces to this story at the moment, especially with the president now scrambling to try to deal with anger over policy cancellations in introducing some new complications in the process. But there are millions of people shopping for policies in a confusing marketplace right now, and they need all the help they can get. National news outlets and niche blogs have a role to play, but major local news organizations have an important responsibility: with plan offerings and regulations differing state by state (or even county by county), they’re the outlets that can drill down and provide targeted guidance to local consumers.


By Tuesday Carol had had enough of this website shopping business. allowed her past the security questions, but it kept telling her the user name did not work. “I feel like I’m getting nowhere,” she told me. “I can’t get on the goddamn website no matter what I do. It’s ridiculous.”

On Thursday, she thought she had finally hit the jackpot. The website allowed her to create an account—and then it froze once more, and she could go no further. (She was able to reach the website’s livechat service, and was told there are still glitches and to try later. “I feel at least there has been some improvement though,” she said.)

Carol is now thinking of keeping her Aetna policy after all; it’s grandfathered, so she can keep it as long as she pays the higher premiums. The question still is, what’s the best option for her? Oh yes—whatever plan she chooses, Pennsylvania law says she has 10 days to change her mind and cancel the policy. None of the materials and no website information she examined told her that.

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Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.