There's no spinning the reality of the initial Obamacare enrollment numbers. They're abysmal.
Only 106,185 Americans signed up for health insurance between Oct. 1 and Nov 2 -- barely one-fifth of the expected total. The situation could have been much worse were it not for a handful of states that operated their own health insurance exchanges. Several of those states fared much better than most. Here are the five with the most impressive Obamacare enrollment numbers as a percentage of potential market size.
Washington claims 7,091 residents who selected a health plan through the state's online exchange. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Washington's potential market size for individual health insurance stands at around 507,000. This puts the state's enrollment rate as a percentage of the overall market at 1.40%, edging out New York for the fifth spot in our ranking.
4. Rhode Island
It's the smallest state in geographical area, but Rhode Island ranks much higher in terms of Obamacare enrollment. The state had 1,192 individuals sign up for health insurance. While that's lower than Washington and a few other states, those enrollees make up 1.7% of Rhode Island's estimated market size of 70,000.
Kentucky garnered praise for its exchange launch, especially compared with the federally operated HealthCare.gov website. The Bluegrass State signed up 5,586 citizens for health insurance in the first month of operation. This number amounts to 1.85% of the state's potential market size of 302,000.
Connecticut enrolled fewer residents than Kentucky -- 4,418 in total. However, the state also has a smaller potential market as estimated by Kaiser, with around 216,000 individuals potentially needing health insurance. As a result, Connecticut takes the No. 2 spot on our list with an enrollment rate of 2.05%.
Vermont stands at the top of the Obamacare enrollment ranking, although only 1,325 Vermonters signed up on the state's exchange. Despite this low number, it still easily vaulted Vermont to the lead position -- because the figure equates to 2.94% of the potential market of 45,000.
Impressing and depressing
Using just the federally operated websites as a benchmark, the enrollment numbers of these five states are relatively impressive. The top five states signed up 19,612 individuals. That's almost three-fourths of the total enrollment of the 36 states using HealthCare.gov combined.
We're still only talking about minuscule numbers, though. WellPoint (NYSE:ANTM), for example, participates in the exchanges of two of the states making our list -- Connecticut and Kentucky. Yet even if every single person enrolling in those states chose WellPoint, the premiums thus far would barely amount to a rounding error for the big insurer.
The nation's largest health insurer, UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH), opted not to participate in most of the state exchanges and didn't do so in any of the five states ranked highest in terms of Obamacare enrollment. Even if it had and every person signing up picked a UnitedHealth plan, it would take 15 months at the current pace of enrollment to amount to just 1% of the company's total commercial membership.
Unfortunately, the hopes for many companies -- insurers, hospitals, and others -- intending to benefit from a surge of newly insured Americans compliments of Obamacare are fading. Humana (NYSE:HUM)recently slashed its enrollment projections by around 50%. That cut could actually prove to be too optimistic, although the company expects the Obamacare open enrollment period to be extended and perhaps allow more Americans to sign up for insurance.
There is at least one winner so far, though. CGI Group (NYSE:GIB), the major contractor involved in developing the federally run Obamacare website, has received nearly $200 million (not counting its assistance on state-run exchanges) -- and could stand to make even more. With options included, the company's federal contract is valued at more than $290 million. That amounts to a cost of more than $2,700 per person enrolled in Obamacare nationwide during the first month. Impressive -- and depressing at the same time.
Fool contributor Keith Speights has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends UnitedHealth Group and WellPoint and owns shares of WellPoint. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.