A message is seen on the computer indicating that there are too many visitors on the Affordable Care Act site to continue. - 

Each broker has his or her own metaphor for how the Affordable Care Act rollout has affected them. 

"Imagine if you were a CPA," says Craig Gussin of San Diego, "and the government announced that everybody could get their taxes done for free." 

He doesn’t mean that he’s working for free.  Just that he’s THAT busy. People see him as a conduit to deep discounts on their health insurance.

California is running its own exchange. It’s going a lot smoother than the one at healthcare.gov.  So, Gussin says that once people are done waiting to see him, he’s able to help them see their way through the whole process, to get insurance and, if they qualify, a subsidy.

In other states, agents tell a different story.

Mark Gurda serves customers in 20 states. His business is up. But that’s where the good news ends.  

His metaphor: "Imagine if you were a pharmaceutical company who made an antidote for a serious virus," he says. "And as a result of a weaponized virus, your business went way up. You would not be really happy about the reasons your business went up."

He says he is concerned that many of his customers will end up worse off. In large part, he blames the problems with healthcare.gov and politics surrounding the Affordable Care Act.

Finally, here is a metaphor from Mark Brown, who runs an agency in a Chicago suburb:

"Health insurance used to be like playing chess on a three-dimensional board in Spanish," he says. "It’s now like playing chess on a six-dimensional board, in multi-languages." 

That is:  So difficult that he had a hard time finding affordable coverage for himself and his employees.  

Follow Dan Weissmann at @danweissmann