Obamacare enrollments much stronger in blue states

The states that are enrolling the highest percentage of their residents in “Obamacare” are largely places with Democratic governors who have strongly embraced the law and set up their own health exchanges to implement it, while many conservative-leaning states remain far behind, according to data released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-partisan research group.

More than 30 percent of the people who can get subsidized insurance through the law are purchasing it in Vermont, Rhode Island, California, Connecticut and Washington, all states President Obama won in 2008 and 2012 and with liberal-leaning governors. On the other hand, a bloc of states in the South and West, such as South Dakota (9 percent), Iowa (10 percent) and New Mexico (10 percent), all of which have Republican governors and did not create their own insurance sites, are lagging far behind, as are Washington, D.C. (9 percent) and Hawaii (6 percent), both of which have had computer problems with their state-based systems.

The states with the highest percentages “were invested in the health reform law, so they have tried to make it work,” said Larry Levitt, a senior vice-president at Kaiser.

Overall, Kaiser estimates that about 21 percent of Americans eligible for subsidized insurance under the law have purchased it, 3.5 million of about 17 million Americans who are eligible. But this varies widely, from about 40 percent of people in California who are eligible (an estimated 765,000) signing up there to only 12 percent in Texas (295,000).

A few conservative-leaning states do stand out with high enrollment figures, particularly North Carolina, which has enrolled about 27 percent of its subsidy-eligible population, despite opposition to the law from its GOP-controlled  legislature and Republican governor. Liberal activists say a coalition of groups have conducted outreach efforts throughout the state to make up for the lack of support from North Carolina’s elected officials.