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3 Twenty Year Olds Build Alternate O-Care Website

From CBS News:

S.F. programmers build alternative to HealthCare.gov

John Blackstone| November 8, 2013

(CBS News) On Friday, President Obama had this to say about problems with the Obamcare [sic]website during a speech in New Orleans: "I promise you, nobody’s been more frustrated. I wanted to go in and fix it myself, but I don’t write code."

His lack of knowledge hasn’t stopped him from ‘fixing’ anything else.

But plenty of programmers do write code. And three of them have created their own website that addresses some of the most annoying problems with HealthCare.gov.

In a San Francisco office shared with other tech start-ups, three 20-year-olds saw HealthCare.gov as a challenge.

With a few late nights, Ning Liang, George Kalogeropoulos and Michael Wasser built "thehealthsherpa.com," a two-week-old website that solves one of the biggest problems with the government’s site.

"They got it completely backwards in terms of what people want up front," said Liang. He added: "They want prices and benefits, so that they could make the decision."

Liang showed CBS News how it worked. "You come to our website and you put in your zip code — in this case a California zip code. You hit ‘find plans,’ and you immediately see the exchange plans that are available for that zip code."

But to quote Harry Reid, ‘Why would Obama want to do that?’ The Obama administration/Democrat Party 1) want your information, 2) don’t want you to see the prices until you have put a lot of time into signing up.

They have plenty of experience working at places like Twitter and Microsoft before setting out to build their own Internet companies. But this project is a public service.

Using information buried in the government’s own website built by high-priced government contractors, they found a simpler way to present it to users.

"That’s the great thing about having such a small team," said Kalogeropoulos. "You sit around a table and say, ‘Okay, how does this work?’ There’s no coordination meetings, there’s no planning sessions. It’s like, ‘Well, let’s read the document and let’s implement this.’"

Small is better? How is that possible?

And the features keep on coming. CBS News looked at the team’s website Thursday and pointed out that the tax subsidy wasn’t in there, which is supposed to be one of the most complicated parts of the HealthCare.gov site. But as Liang explained: "Yes, we added this last night…the subsidy calculation is fairly complicated, but it wasn’t too bad."

And never mind that the subsidy calculator on the government site is usually wrong.

You can’t actually enroll on the HealthSherpa site, but they do provide contact information for companies offering the plans. Users who find a plan they like can go directly to the insurance companies without ever using HealthCare.gov.

Which is all these Obama-Care exchange sites should have ever been in the first place. That is, if they just wanted to match people up with insurance plans. But that isn’t their real purpose.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, November 11th, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

5 Responses to “3 Twenty Year Olds Build Alternate O-Care Website”

  1. captstubby says:

    “It’s like, ‘Well, let’s read the document .’”
    speaks volumes


    “should have ever been in the first place…”

    “But that isn’t their real purpose.”

    KISS is an acronym for “Keep it simple, stupid” as a design principle noted by the U.S. Navy
    The acronym was reportedly coined by Kelly Johnson,(creators of the Lockheed U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird spy planes, among many others).
    While popular usage has translated it for decades as, ‘Keep it simple, stupid’, Johnson translated it as, ‘Keep it simple stupid’ (no comma), and this reading is still used by many authors.There was no implicit meaning that an engineer was stupid; just the opposite.
    The principle is best exemplified by the story of Johnson ( lead engineer at the Lockheed Skunk Works ), handing a team of design engineers a handful of tools, with the challenge that the jet aircraft they were designing must be repairable by an average mechanic in the field under combat conditions with only these tools. Hence, the ‘stupid’ refers to the relationship between the way things break and the sophistication available to fix them.
    The acronym has been used by many in field of software development.

    I am ,”for the first time in my life…”
    in 100% agreement with our Campainer in Chief when he told America,
    “You didn’t Build That!”

  2. mr_bill says:

    I’m cofused, did the three youngsters spend more or less than a billion dollars on their functioning website that only took a few weeks to put together?

  3. BillK says:

    How dare a private company infringe on the Government’s business?

    Somehow they will be have found to have violated a Federal hacking statute somewhere…

  4. canary says:

    “Users who find a plan they like can go directly to the insurance companies without ever using HealthCare.gov.”

    This is put in words I’ve been trying to say. Why can’t one find a list of the private exchanges and insurance companies without going on any site for help.

    They’ve had 6 weeks to just give the lists out to the public. There is no transparency.

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