Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Dylan Scott writes at TPM that Kentucky, with its deeply conservative congressional delegation, might seem like an unlikely place for Obamacare to find success but the state's online health insurance web sites has become one of the best marketplaces since its launch and shown that the marketplace concept can work in practice. Kentucky routinely ranks toward the bottom in overall health, and better health coverage is one step toward reversing that norm. Whatever the federal website seems to have failed to do to ensure its success on the Oct. 1 launch, Kentucky did. It started with the commitment to build the state's own website rather than default to the federal version. On July 17, 2012, a few weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear created the exchange via executive order, over the objections of a Republican-controlled state legislature, which sought other means — including an effort to prevent the exchange from finding office space — to block the site's creation. The recipe for success in Kentucky was: A pared-down website engineered to perform the basic functions well and a concerted effort to test it as frequently as possible to work out glitches before the Oct. 1 launch. Testing was undertaken throughout every step of the process, says Carrie Banahan, kynect's executive director, and it was crucial because it allowed state officials to identify problems early in the process. She laid out the timeline like this: From January 2013 to March, they developed the system; from April to June, they built it; from July to September, they tested it. From a design standpoint, Kentucky made the conscious choice to stick to the basics, rather than seeking to blow users away with a state-of-the-art consumer interface. It “doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that other states tried to incorporate,” like interactive features, says Jennifer Tolbert. “It’s very straightforward in allowing consumers to browse plans without first creating an account.” A big part of that was knowing their demographics: A simpler site would make it easer to access for people without broadband Internet access, and the content was written at a sixth-grade reading level so it would be as easy to understand as possible. "What we've found in Kentucky when we started talking with people was that there was a huge amount of misinformation and misunderstanding. People were very confused," says Beshear . "What I've been telling them is: Look, you don't have to like the president, and you don't have to like me. It's not about the president and it's not about me. It's about you, it's about your family, it's about your children.""