A trio of programmers in San Francisco have built their own version of Healthcare.gov, the federal insurance marketplace that has had serious technical issues since launching on October 1st, over the course of "a few late nights."
HealthSherpa allows users to browse health insurance plans available in their zip code, and even calculates what federal tax subsidies they may be eligible for. The government site does not allow users to browse plans like this, instead requiring everyone to register and fill out an application.
The site does not attempt to do most of the complex functions of Healthcare.gov, including verifying identity and submitting applications. It's more of a demonstration of how one aspect could have been designed better.
"They got it completely backwards in terms of what people want up front," Ning Liang told CBS News. "They want prices and benefits, so that they could make the decision."
HealthSherpa only addresses one small aspect of Healthcare.gov
The federal site was built by 55 contractors that were managed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an agency within the Health and Human Services department.
At first, the project by Liang, George Kalogeropoulos and Michael Wasser seems to show that a Silicon Valley-style startup mindset would have gotten the health insurance marketplace built better and in less time.
However, HealthSherpa only addresses one small aspect of Healthcare.gov — and it's not even bug-free. While The Verge was able to get quotes for plans in California and was correctly redirected to the state exchange for New York, a Virginia zip code produced zero results. Time for a tech surge?