Consumers have 7 days left to sign up for health insurance through the online marketplace in order to buy coverage that will begin on January 1. Enrollment will remain open until March 31 for those who miss the December 23, 2013 deadline. Approximately 365,000 Americans have already registered, including Consumers Union story sharer Kate Campana.

Kate lives in Colorado and is a few years away from Medicare eligibility. She has a masters in social work and worked full time with medical benefits until she was laid off a few years ago. Kate now works several part-time jobs to make ends meet and has not been able to afford health insurance. “Since my COBRA ran out, I’ve spent my time thinking that if something bad happens to me, I hope it’s a car accident,” Kate said, “because that’s the only place that I’m insured.”

Colorado runs its own health insurance marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado, which Kate began accessing as soon as it was open on October 1. The process took a while because technical glitches were still occurring when she started using the site. After about 3 and a half weeks, Kate was finally able to sign on and apply for benefits. Because her income is just above the Colorado Medicaid eligibility level, she was required to apply for Medicaid and be turned down before she could access subsidies and buy health insurance.

Kate chose a silver plan, and from what she can tell it will probably offer more coverage than the plan she had through her former employer. She received more than $500/month in subsidies and will only pay about $50/month for her new plan. “Even though it’s been challenging for me to sign up, I’m probably one of the least frustrated people,” said Kate. “I’m sure that after we’ve done this once, as a country we’re going to get it.”

Kate is one of more than 148,000 people to sign up for health insurance through their state marketplace. To find out about the marketplace in your state and learn more about your options, visit our new Consumer Reports tool Health Law Helper.