How many tech companies does it take to build a working healthcare web site? Answer: Not the 47 hired for healthcare.gov, which has had massive technical problems despite months if not years of preparation.
Yet one company, Health Sherpa, has managed to create a working healthcare site in days-- and it can help people navigate HealthCare.gov. In fact, the federal government was so impressed with Health Sherpa it contacted the company and is now preparing to make it a broker that can sign people up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, according to George Kalogeropoulos, one of Health Sherpa's three founders.
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He tells The Daily Ticker that when he and his colleagues went to HealthCare.gov to shop for insurance, "we discovered it was really hard to see what plans were available." The group decided to take action and created a new website to address the problems they experienced on HealthCare.gov.
"The point of Health Sherpa care is to just make it real easy," Kalogeropoulos explains in the video above. "Enter your location to see what plans are available for you under the Affordable Care Act."
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I did it, and it is easy. You enter your zip code, age, type of plan you're considering and annual household income. The result: the names of plans in your area and the subsidy you're entitled to, if any.
If Health Sherpa could make it easy to find health insurance, why couldn't the government, which spent millions on the website?
"They tried to do too much in one place," explains Kalogeropoulos. For example, "there were some policy considerations that led to a certain workflow where you have to sign up before you can actually see available plans, and that's what made it really hard for people to use the site."
So what's the solution?
Kalogeropoulos suggests a "modular system where you have a government data hub [including income and immigration information], and then on top of that you put 'best in class' plan browsers like Health Sherpa and enrollment processes."
Kalogeropoulos and his colleagues eventually found health insurance plans on the HealthCare.gov site which were " better options than what our insurance companies were forcibly converting us to." But as healthy young 20-somethings they will be paying significantly more.
Kalogeropoulos says he would "rather not pay more," but understands the reasoning behind why he has to.
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