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Government Medicine United States

How 3 Young Coders Built a Better Portal To HealthCare.gov 499

Posted by timothy
from the trying-to-be-everything-to-everyone dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Doug Gross writes at CNN that spurred by the problems that have surrounded the rollout of the official HeathCare.gov website, three 20-year-old programmers in San Francisco have created an alternative website to help people get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act quickly and cheaply. The result is a bare-bones site called Health Sherpa, which lets users enter their zip code, plus details about their family and income, to find suggested plans in their area. 'We were surprised to see that it was actually fairly difficult to use HealthCare.gov to find and understand our options,' says George Kalogeropoulos, who created the site along with Ning Liang and Michael Wasser. 'Given that the data was publicly available, we thought that it made a lot of sense to take the data that was on there and just make it easy to search through and view available plans.' Of course, it's not fair to compare the creation of Health Sherpa to the rollout of the more complicated government ACA site, which even President Obama has acknowledged as a horribly botched affair. 'It isn't a fair apples-to-apples comparison,' says Kalogeropoulos. 'Unlike Healthcare.gov, our site doesn't connect to the IRS, DHS, and various state exchanges and authorities. Furthermore, we're using the government's data, so our site is only possible because of the hard work that the Healthcare.gov team has done.' But it does cast light on the difference between what can be done by a small group of experts, steeped in Silicon Valley's anything-is-possible mentality, and a massive government project in which politics and bureaucracy seem to have helped create an unwieldy mess. The three programmers have continued fine-tuning the site as its popularity has grown. In less than a week, the site has had almost 200,000 unique visitors and over half a million page views. '"The Health Sherpa makes it ridiculously easy for anyone to compare health care plans covered under Obamacare in 34 states," writes Connor Simpson at Atlantic Wire. "The result is a simple, beautiful, remarkably responsive website that anyone could use.'"
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How 3 Young Coders Built a Better Portal To HealthCare.gov

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  • Agreed.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross AT yahoo DOT ca> on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @09:59AM (#45399979)

    IMO and I will probably get downgraded because of this comment... WOOOPEEE DOOOO! So you did a nice job, like you said. However, a UI is only a detail. The backend and getting that work is often much more difficult. I get really annoyed by some Silicon Valley types that think I can rewrite an entire enterprise system over a weekend. It involves a bit more than just fancy UI and greenfield database storage.

    My guess what went wrong of the the original healthcare website is that it was designed with enterprise in mind and became bogged down in enterprise details. Would not be the first time, and will not be the last time something like this happens.

  • by jamesl (106902) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @10:05AM (#45400043)

    A search for insurance for a 65 year old single person with an annual income of $35,000 returned a "Market Young Adult Essentials" policy and a link to the insurance company's start page for finding available policies. This is not "A better portal to HealthCare.gov"

    And then, there's the warning ... "The information provided here is for research purposes. Make sure to verify premiums and subsidies on your state exchange or healthcare.gov, or directly with the insurance company or an agent."

    This is not good to go and less functional that even the real HealthCare.gov.

    They left all the hard stuff out.

  • Re:It is simple (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @10:52AM (#45400567) Homepage

    I still get idiots asking for me to build them a company website and only expect it to cost a couple hundred bucks.
    Most shit themselves when I qoute "$50 an hour, you can buy 10 hour blocks and I estimate the website will take 40 hours IF you make no changes at all from the scope of work you just gave me. Any changes are billed at hourly rate, minimum 2 hours, if it takes me 2 hours and 10 minutes, you pay for 4 hours

    This eliminates the idiots that thing they can get a cheap website and only the customers that understand business

  • Re:Just price? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TWiTfan (2887093) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @11:20AM (#45400857)

    Who the fuck modded me down for pointing out that this site doesn't work too well either?? It tried two zip codes in two different states. One just returned a blank page, and one returned a message saying that this state isn't supported. Hardly the wonderful alternative to the Federal webpage that the summary makes it out to be.

  • by BetaDays (2355424) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @11:33AM (#45401047)
    But it doesn't send data to 57 agencies does it? I read somewhere that they have 57 different agencies that are sharing in all the data and information that people put in and search on the website and also the goverment has to follow the 503 rule (I think it's called that the one that calls for disability features and such) also all the diffrent languages is these guys website in? only english? what about Spanish? and so on that the goverment one has to have. I know the article says "bare bones" I'm sure the Healthcare.gov site worked when it was bare bones to. I'm not defending how the site is right now but I'm guessing when it was first frameworked without all the added layers of what the goverment has to have in it could be causing some of the issues. I'm not part of the site just my thoughts on it.

    Oh and when I went though both sites the goverment one gave me diffrent cheapter plans than this one did. So the question is how up to date are the databases are or is it just the search Algorithms or maybe even the time of day since I did my Obama search last night and this one right now?
  • by Bartles (1198017) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @12:15PM (#45401525)
    No his plan got cancelled because it didn't meet new federal requirements, idiot. Just like mine did.
  • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @12:37PM (#45401807) Journal

    If you're going to live by the concepts of a 200 year old document, then how about using interpretations that were contemporaneous to the concept? Better yet, how is ignoring the very clarifying words of the author a better approach?

    And of course the SC has consistently allowed expansion of the Federal Government. As an arm of the Federal Government, the SC is yet another case of the fox guarding the hen house, albeit in fancily dressed black robes...

  • Re:Just price? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pepty (1976012) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @03:00PM (#45403785)
    I didn't downvote, but the summary says that it works in 34 states. FTA: "They left out the 16 states with existing marketplace sites, though it seems support for those states is coming soon." Oddly it does work in California, which does have a marketplace site.

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