Slate's been tracking a small group of Real Americans as they sign up for health care on the exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act. Their first reports, at the beginning of October, were uniformly negative. Nobody noticed—hey, the government was shut down! Their new reports reflect some actual experiences signing up. Still sort of negative, with a few bright beams of hope.
That's how the layman is experiencing and understanding the law. Sarah Kliff, who I'm pretty convinced is actually an Internet psuedonym for a collection of genius reporting robots, has a nice explanation of the delays that are confusing us dumber-than-layman types.