The Affordable Health Care act rollout was an unmitigated disaster thanks in large part to a cluttered website that both didn't work and was offensively ugly. Maybe things would not have gone so poorly if HealthCare.gov looked something like this.
No one knows the resources that went into building HealthCare.gov, but the government quickly realized it wasn't enough after that terrible first day, so they decided to bring in a crew of leading tech experts to fix the website's many, many problems. But the job was already at least partially completed by three unknown coders living in San Francisco.
Meet the Health Sherpa, the website HealthCare.gov probably should have been. George Kalogeropoulos, Ning Liang and Michael Wasser saw the troubled launch and decided they could do a better health care enrolment website better than the government and, by golly, they succeeded. The Health Sherpa makes it ridiculously easy for anyone to compare health care plans covered under Obamacare in 34 states. (They left out the 16 states with existing marketplace sites, though it seems support for those states is coming soon.) The result is a simple, beautiful, remarkably responsive website that anyone could use.
Here are step-by-step instructions to using the Health Sherpa.
1) Type in your zip code to see if your state qualifies for their help.
If it doesn't work, you'll get this message:
Sorry, 90210. You're out of luck, for now. If Health Sherpa does support your state's health care plans, proceed to step two.
2) Pick your plan.
You can sort through different criteria on the left side of your screen. As you click through the different options, the corresponding plans will immediately sort themselves by price on the left side. There's virtually no loading time between changing your criteria and the plans appearing. Once you're figured out which plan you want, proceed to step three.
3) Follow their instructions.
They've provided detailed instructions about how to purchase each plan included on the site. You can't sign up directly from the Health Sherpa, it always involves going to another website or making a phone call. But hey, it's still a lot easier than the available options. The Health Sherpa include any taxes or subsidies for which you could qualify, so make sure to double check your eligibility before signing up for any specific plans. Other than that, you're finished.
That was easy, right? Most people should be able to figure out how to use the Health Sherpa to look through health care plans. The few people who already noticed the site online have been raving about it on social media since it launched:
Three guys built this one website. Hopefully the Obama tech team can figure something out that's half as easy to use as the Health Sherpa.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.