States have taken their fair share of criticism for bungling the design and execution of health insurance exchanges, the online marketplaces where Americans can determine eligibility and purchase insurance that’s mandated under federal health-care reform.

Kentucky is one of the few states, though, where the benefits exchange functioned smoothly without fanfare. The state’s no-frills system, called Kynect, enrolled more than 116,000 people by the end of 2013 — mostly without drama or the widespread outages that have plagued other states.

Kentucky made some wise moves under the leadership of Carrie Banahan, executive director of the Office of the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange. A big one was getting to work soon after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010. Several states waited another two years, after the Supreme Court ultimately upheld the health-care law. With more time, Kentucky reportedly tested Kynect for three months, unlike some states that did so only for a few weeks.

Kynect also doesn’t require customers to complete a password-protected login and registration to view and compare the many health plans that are available. This might seem like a minor point, but it eventually helped avoid those pesky error screens that plagued the federal HealthCare.gov site and other state exchanges when open enrollment started on Oct. 1.

Kentucky’s exchange was built so users could seamlessly determine their Medicaid eligibility on the same website — another sticking point for states that chose to build their own exchange instead of using the federal government’s version. And Kentucky went so far as to hire Xerox to run a call center for Kentuckians who prefer not to go online to shop for their insurance.

Crucially, Kentucky also appears to have selected a skilled vendor in Deloitte. The consulting firm also worked on high-performing insurance exchanges for Connecticut, Rhode Island and Washington.

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Matt Williams Matt Williams  |  Contributing Writer

Matt Williams was previously the news editor of Govtech.com, and is now a contributor to Government Technology and Public CIO magazines.