What does a software developer do when he can't get on the HealthCare.gov site? He builds his own. And, that's exactly what the three founders of Health Sherpa did.
When George Kalogeropoulos, Ning Liang and Michael Wasser lost their own existing healthcare plans, like many Americans, they turned to the Affordable Care Act's website to find new ones. But after clicking around the site, the trio quickly got frustrated.
"This is ridiculous," Kalogeropoulos recalled saying at the time. "We consider ourselves pretty good at computers and were having a heck a time trying to get this to work," he continued.
Three days later, the trio had a first-take version of a user experience-focused site using the public data available from the government. The site, called Health Sherpa, is as easy as entering a zip code, checking some boxes about personal qualifications and then choosing from the eligible plans. The site then links to the insurance sites and contact information for each qualifying plan so visitors can sign themselves up, without ever having to go through the HealthCare.gov site.
"If you're going to implement the Affordable Care Act, you’ve got to have the mechanisms to make it really easy for everyone, from the computer illiterate to the tech savvy, to sign up and get insurance," Kalogeropoulos said.
The Health Sherpa site launch comes after two months of problems associated with the Affordable Care Act flagship site HealthCare.gov and back-end systems. The Health Sherpa site was first launched at the beginning of November, but it has been rapidly gaining momentum since, Kalogeropoulos said.
The site has already surpassed 500,000 visitors with more than 1.7 million page views, Kalogeropoulos told CRN.
The focus for the site is completely on providing the easiest user experience possible, Kalogeropoulos said. When he went on the Healthcare.gov site, Kalogeropoulos said he, Liang and Wasser counted more than 16 clicks to get plan estimates, with most of those clicks resulting in the user having to wade through information, disclaimers or unrelated pages, which was much too many, he said.
However, the comparison of Health Sherpa to the larger HealthCare.gov site is not an "apples to apples comparison," Kalogeropoulos said. The leg up that the Health Sherpa has over the government is that, as a startup, the group is able to experiment more and cut back on areas most users don't need, such as targeting the site for the visually impaired, a compliance the government must meet.
"Cutting those corners saves a ton of time and money," Kalogeropoulos said.
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