“If you are building a house and you want to occupy it by a certain date, you have to have the plumbing and electricity done,” says Graham, whose company consults on private health exchanges.

“But if you choose not to finish the basement or you choose not the finish the deck or not to have the yard done … you will still be able to have shelter.”

Leaving off those extras appears to have worked for Kentucky, where officials say they’ve enrolled more than 15,000 people on the exchange, and Washington, which reports 30,000. Maryland, meantime, reports 16,000 people have filled out applications online but only 1,100 or so actually have enrolled. Maryland has about 800,000 people without health insurance, compared to Kentucky’s 650,000.

“Many of the state websites, though not all, elected to simplify the process and allow you to shop without creating a login and submitting all your personal information,” says Caroline Pearson, a health reform expert at consulting firm Avalere Health.