20-year-old programmers build healthcare website in just three days, show the government how it is done

Health care coders

The Affordable Care Act has definitely rolled out to a very bumpy start over it’s faulty website, which is still shut down from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. to make improvements, according to the official site. So it comes as quite a shock to find out that three programmers, who are twenty-years old, have created a site which allows people to find coverage, in only three days, and the cost was under a thousand dollars.

In response to the issues surrounding healthcare.gov, the three programmers created Health Sherpa, which can be viewed here, and is a very simple and clean site that allows people to research health care plans.

“We were surprised to see that it was actually fairly difficult to use HealthCare.gov to find and understand our options,” George Kalogeropoulos, one of the sites creators, told CNN. “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.”

George designed the site along with friends Ning Liang and Michael Wasser. According to their site, it’s goal is to simplify locating health insurance that is available under the Affordable Care Act. Their site has already had over 500,000 hits and the three programmers are receiving a lot of support.

“We’ve heard from people of all ages and walks of life, and thousands of people have reached out to us directly via email, phone, and Twitter to thank us to and to suggest features and request improvements,” George said. “Tens of thousands of people have clicked through to buy a specific plan, suggesting that we are achieving our goal: helping people find a health insurance plan.”

Even George admits that drawing a complete comparison between the official healthcare site built by the US government and theirs is a bit unfair. “It isn’t a fair apples-to-apples comparison,” he said. “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.”

Despite their modesty, it is very interesting to see what can be done is just a few days, and makes one wonder exactly what the government can achieve with their website, if they really put themselves into it. Or rather, put themselves less to it — how many millions have been sunk on Healthcare.gov so far and how many people have signed up to use it? Last I heard, on opening day a whopping six people were able to sign up. On the bright side, at such a low point the only way to go is up.

[via CNN, Health Sherpa, Health Care Official]

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4 comments

  1. JonE

    [@kevbo] (right hand – left hand) This has been true from the inception of “Welfare”, “Social Services”, and now “Jobs and Family” or any other social program managed by the government at any level which was not supposed to see the light of day into the 21st Century. The right hand giveth and the left hand taketh away or visa versa.

    Things would probably improve if we the people stopped electing “special interest politians” and started electing “representatives” of integrity and character.

    [@Seamus McSeamus] I could not agree with you more, sir. I will leave it at.

  2. kevbo

    Building the website was the easy part. As the article states: “It isn’t a fair apples-to-apples comparison,… Unlike Healthcare.gov, our site doesn’t connect to the IRS, DHS, and various state exchanges and authorities.”

    From what I’ve learned, and I’m certainly not making excuses for the incompetence, lies, and bungling, the difficult part was trying to encompass and integrate into one system all the different programs, requirements, and options necessitated by this bloated and frankly, in my opinion, illegal law. Add that to the fact that they had two different companies developing the site, one for the front end and the other for the back-end (which integrated everything), and you have the classic cluster**** bureaucracies are prone to produce when the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, while at the same time turf fights are being fought amongst the different agencies and offices within those agencies.

    Pay no mind to the bobble-heads which use the excuse that the site was overwhelmed due to its popularity. It is fundamentally flawed by design.

  3. Seamus McSeamus

    [@Coyote] Or perhaps it’s just proof that you shouldn’t pass legislation that impacts so many people without bothering to read it. It certainly makes a case for proof of concept testing before rolling something out to the whole nation. I suggest all testing be done on Congress.

    I think this also provides a perfect example of why we need less government creep and not more. There is so much cronyism at work here that it isn’t even funny. Government involvement in almost anything means bloated costs, unnecessary bureaucracy, and bumbling incompetence. And that’s on a good day when things are hitting on all cylinders.