Kentucky

One health exchange success story

November 21, 2013: 4:21 PM ET

And the woman behind it

By Jen Wieczner

131121160337-carrie-banahan-620xaFORTUNE -- Getting people to sign up for Obamacare is no simple task -- least of all in the Red States, where anti-Obamacare fever runs high. Yet that's what Carrie Banahan must do: She's head of the health insurance exchange in Kentucky, the only state in the South that's operating its own marketplace, known as Kynect.

While nearly all Republican-voting states relinquished the task to the federal government, Banahan took charge herself -- and she's doing a better job than the Feds. While the federal health exchange website healthcare.gov has been brought to its knees with ongoing technological problems, Kynect had enrolled nearly 48,000 people in new health coverage, including Medicaid and private plans, as of Nov. 14, according to the state's most recent data. "#Obamacare is working in KY, an average of 1,000 people sign-up each day," Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear recently bragged on Twitter.

MORE: New Obamacare confusion. Can you keep your policy? Maybe.

When the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that it had enrolled 26,794 people in private health plans through the federal health insurance marketplace -- a number that failed to impress critics -- Kentucky posted 5,586 (which it updated to 8,780 a few days later), coming in just behind California, New York, and Washington, and ahead of much larger states including Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Colorado.

For the upcoming issue, Fortune is speaking with Carrie Banahan to ask her how she is handling the challenges of running a health care exchange, how to avoid technological glitches and the future of Obamacare in the U.S. We'll be taking some questions from readers, too. So: what would you ask her?

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