Beta

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

How 3 Young Coders Built a Better Portal To HealthCare.gov

timothy posted about 9 months ago | from the trying-to-be-everything-to-everyone dept.

Government 499

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Doug Gross writes at CNN that spurred by the problems that have surrounded the rollout of the official HeathCare.gov website, three 20-year-old programmers in San Francisco have created an alternative website to help people get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act quickly and cheaply. The result is a bare-bones site called Health Sherpa, which lets users enter their zip code, plus details about their family and income, to find suggested plans in their area. 'We were surprised to see that it was actually fairly difficult to use HealthCare.gov to find and understand our options,' says George Kalogeropoulos, who created the site along with Ning Liang and Michael Wasser. '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.' Of course, it's not fair to compare the creation of Health Sherpa to the rollout of the more complicated government ACA site, which even President Obama has acknowledged as a horribly botched affair. 'It isn't a fair apples-to-apples comparison,' says Kalogeropoulos. '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.' But it does cast light on the difference between what can be done by a small group of experts, steeped in Silicon Valley's anything-is-possible mentality, and a massive government project in which politics and bureaucracy seem to have helped create an unwieldy mess. The three programmers have continued fine-tuning the site as its popularity has grown. In less than a week, the site has had almost 200,000 unique visitors and over half a million page views. '"The Health Sherpa makes it ridiculously easy for anyone to compare health care plans covered under Obamacare in 34 states," writes Connor Simpson at Atlantic Wire. "The result is a simple, beautiful, remarkably responsive website that anyone could use.'"

cancel ×

499 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Just price? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45399893)

I'm looking at a zip code and it tells me the price for all the plans, but it doesn't even tell me the deductible or out-of-pocket?

Re:Just price? (2, Insightful)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 9 months ago | (#45400183)

Lucky you. I typed in my zip code and all I got was a blank page back. I must live in one of those zip codes with no insurance companies.

Doesn't Matter (2, Funny)

sycodon (149926) | about 9 months ago | (#45399907)

Lipstick on a pig is still a pig.

Re:Doesn't Matter (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45399939)

But lube on a pigs anus is even better

Re:Doesn't Matter (4, Funny)

schneidafunk (795759) | about 9 months ago | (#45399947)

mmm sexy-bacon

Re:Doesn't Matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45399999)

Bleh! Maybe if it's cherry chapstick, I used to eat that by the tube as a kid.

Re:Doesn't Matter (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400591)

"Charry Chapstick" is what we used to call a dog boner. I bet you ate a lot of it!

Re:Doesn't Matter (1)

B33rNinj4 (666756) | about 9 months ago | (#45400067)

It's almost a shame it eat it. Almost...

Re:Doesn't Matter (4, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 9 months ago | (#45400027)

Unless you've got a magical lipstick of transfiguration.

Lipstic of transfiguration on a pig is a standard action that provokes attacks of opportunity. And the pig may resist the transformation with a successful DC 17 Fortitude save.

The change would only be instantaneous if the pig has a volume of one cubic foot or less (1h/cubic foot, for fatter pigs).

Cubic Pig (1)

Rande (255599) | about 9 months ago | (#45400103)

Is that related to the spherical cow?
Did they ever get those cylindrical cats (aka bonsai kittens) to breed?
Scientists are hunting for the tetrahedral camels as we speak.

Re:Cubic Pig (2)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 9 months ago | (#45400397)

Is that related to the spherical cow?

No, but it is to the pork barrel.

Re:Doesn't Matter (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 9 months ago | (#45400219)

I just know there's a pork barrel joke hidden here somewhere...

Government Involvement (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45399909)

Why is it a good idea for Government to be getting involved in areas they have no Constitutional authority to get involved in again? This is just another example of why our Constitution limits Government.

Re:Government Involvement (-1, Troll)

nurb432 (527695) | about 9 months ago | (#45399963)

What is this Constitution you speak of? ( our current administration uses it for toilet paper )

Re:Government Involvement (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400069)

A document that says slaves and indians are less of a person than white people and that folks in Wyoming get 300 times more vote than I do.

Also a document that seems to inspire nihilist Libertarians and therefore probably worthless.

Re:Government Involvement (4, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | about 9 months ago | (#45400385)

Actually, the current Constitution says there are no slaves in the United States. The amendments matter.

Re:Government Involvement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400561)

We are all now slaves, thanks to Obama.

Re:Government Involvement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400423)

And to think that somebody modded this drivel up.

No where does the constitution say any of that, as the constitution says that all men are created equally, it just doesn't define what men are, but it was left to interpretation as to who is a member of race man, and who isn't. It does define state level representation in that you have both senate and congress so by the senate all states are equally represented and by congress states with bigger populations have more of a say, but again, left individual representation rather undefined. It was more of a framework of how states would work together and operate together and how federal level representation would be carried out. Personal freedoms aren't defined in the constitution at any level. You have to hit the bill of rights for those. And though yes, those are amendments to the constitution, they were not originally part of it.

And I think you might want to learn something about libertarian if you want to call them nihilists. We stand for having government involved where it needs to be, and nowhere else. That's a far stretch from anarchy, which by the way, is an extreme leftist view. But hey, why let facts get in the way of your opinion, right?

Re:Government Involvement (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45399967)

Until hospitals have a constitutional right to let you die if you show up at the emergency room with no insurance, you need to shut the fuck up.

Re:Government Involvement (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400065)

This. This sums up the big problem the ACA is trying to fix and why the individual mandate is important. The majority of the people in the US are just too fucking stupid or steeped in partisan politics to understand it.

Re:Government Involvement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400583)

This. This sums up the big problem the ACA is trying to fix and why the individual mandate is important. The majority of the people in the US are just too fucking stupid or steeped in partisan politics to understand it.

Hospitals already can't deny services in an emergency. The ACA and individual mandate only serve to try and limit the hospital's financial loss; it has absolutely nothing to do with the patient.

It is an entirely political question related to the boundary of Government. Do you want to force young, healthy people to have coverage to pay the lion's share for everyone else, or do you allow individuals to take responsibility for the choices they make and the risks they take by not having insurance? Is the government in the business of prop-ing businesses up? Funny for most how that answer changes when the subject is large banking institutions.

Re:Government Involvement (0)

NettiWelho (1147351) | about 9 months ago | (#45400557)

Until hospitals have a constitutional right to let you die if you show up at the emergency room with no insurance, you need to shut the fuck up.

If you have cancer or something else that takes a while to kill you and you dont get treatment until its an acute emergency you might aswell not get it at all...

Re:Government Involvement (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400029)

That's cute, but you're not arguing against the policies with that mantra, but instead resorting to a axiomatic-based argument that if it's not in the Constitution, it's not allowed, at all, period, no discussion.

At most, you're showing to me that the Constitution needs revision.

Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400305)

Bullshit,
If it's not in the constitution, it's left to the states. If you had read the thing, you'd see that in the, oh, say 10th ammendment. By the way, it can be done that way. Notice this state called Massachusets or something like that, where Obama's failed republican policy has been tried. There's no need, at all, for this to be a federal mandate. It worked better as a state mandate than it can here.

Re:Government Involvement (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 9 months ago | (#45400191)

right to life, liiberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Re:Government Involvement (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400255)

"life" means I (or the govt.) theoretically can't walk up to you and kill you for no reason

it does NOT mean that I have to sacrifice my resources (in the form of taxes) to keep you alive regardless of any poor choices you make or accidents that befall you

Re:Government Involvement (4, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 9 months ago | (#45400525)

Of course not. That "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" phrase comes from the Declaration of Independence, which doesn't actually require anything.

Rather, it's the Constitution that requires you to give your resources to help others, according to what Congress considers to promote the "general welfare":

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

Re:Government Involvement (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400251)

It falls under "general welfare", Mr. Teabagger.

Re:Government Involvement (5, Insightful)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 9 months ago | (#45400285)

My coworker says the exact same thing about the ACA. She insists that the government should not get involved in her life and intrude on something as personal as health care. Of course she wants the government to intrude in someone else's personal life so that it can protect traditional marriage by telling two people who love each other to not get married because they are the same sex. She also insists that the government should dictate the reproductive rights of women too. Why is it okay for the government to intrude in someone else's personal lives but not our own?

Her mixed message makes me doubt the sincerity of her desire to uphold the constitution. She is not alone, I see thing from a lot of social conservatives.

If only the constitution specified some procedure that must be followed to verify that a law is in fact constitutional like have the highest court in the nation review and approve the controversial law. Wait it does, and yes they did.

Re:Government Involvement (4, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 9 months ago | (#45400429)

Article I, Section 8:

The Congress shall have Power To ... provide for the ... general Welfare of the United States;...

Or in other words, the government is allowed by the Constitution to make America better, as Congress sees fit. By passing the ACA, Congress has invoked this power. The Supreme Court has determined that it is fairly applied and within the mandate of the Constitution, so yes, health care is actually an area the government has Constitutional authority over.

Before spouting off about the Constitution, you might want to actually read it.

Strengths of Open Data (5, Insightful)

Lech Rzedzicki (2828773) | about 9 months ago | (#45399915)

This only shows why it's important that organisations, especially public ones publish open data - even if the software is broken, as long as the data is open and accessible and in a known format, someone else can pick up the slack and process it as necessary!

Old adage about number of coders on a project (5, Funny)

Andover Chick (1859494) | about 9 months ago | (#45399923)

This proves the old adage that no more programmers should be involved on a project than you can fit into a VW Bug with pizza and beer.

Re:Old adage about number of coders on a project (2)

orthancstone (665890) | about 9 months ago | (#45400105)

Programmers are the easy part to handle. It's the VW Bus full of people that have to manage all the bullshit related to government projects that you need to worry about.

Re:Old adage about number of coders on a project (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400199)

Maybe he wanted to say VW Beetle.

Re:Old adage about number of coders on a project (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400211)

A VW Bug with pizza and beer.. Sounds like there's always room for one more.

I think the record is 20 or something.

Re:Old adage about number of coders on a project (4, Insightful)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 9 months ago | (#45400233)

Yet I'd be willing to bet that most of the idiots who repeat that adage will turn around and play a modern triple-A level videogame with absolutely no sense of the irony. The days of people doing the really big stuff out of their garages are long gone.

How would it handle a large load? (4, Insightful)

Pr0xY (526811) | about 9 months ago | (#45399929)

This is a nicely done website, there is no doubt about that. And certainly the people who implemented healthcare.gov could learn a thing or too from it.

But I do have to ask, how would thehealthsherpa.com hold up when 100,000's of people try to use it at the same time? My guess is that the site is hosted on a single, relatively small server and wouldn't hold up very well. I could be wrong, but I think that scale is worth considering.

Agreed.... (5, Interesting)

SerpentMage (13390) | about 9 months ago | (#45399979)

IMO and I will probably get downgraded because of this comment... WOOOPEEE DOOOO! So you did a nice job, like you said. However, a UI is only a detail. The backend and getting that work is often much more difficult. I get really annoyed by some Silicon Valley types that think I can rewrite an entire enterprise system over a weekend. It involves a bit more than just fancy UI and greenfield database storage.

My guess what went wrong of the the original healthcare website is that it was designed with enterprise in mind and became bogged down in enterprise details. Would not be the first time, and will not be the last time something like this happens.

Re:Agreed.... (1)

HideyoshiJP (1392619) | about 9 months ago | (#45400213)

You're most likely correct. I can't even imagine what kind of nightmare it was to get the back-end connections talking to all those other government systems either. That's not even taking into account the government security requirements...

Re:Agreed.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400371)

You mean three young hipsters coding in groovy on grails or php isn't all it takes to run a business or government entity and that there is more to it than that? What?? WHAT??????

Because of that, I might have to shave my sideburns even though No-Shave November isn't over yet.

Re:Agreed.... (1)

naasking (94116) | about 9 months ago | (#45400523)

What you can scalably do on a weekend depends entirely on the framework on which you build. If your framework only exposes primitives that can scale across clusters, then you'll get a lot more done more quickly than if you're starting with a PHP page.

Re: How would it handle a large load? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45399991)

Well so far it looks like it standing up to the slashdotting just fine :-)

Re:How would it handle a large load? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400057)

Looks pretty easily scale-able to me... Drop it into AWS and you can spin up web servers any time the load gets too high, load balance across them easily. I would assume they're using web service calls to populate the plan data, though it's possible they suck them into a local database. Also easy to set up multiple db servers with replication.

Sure, as three entry level developers they probably don't have the cash for the physical infrastructure, but I don't see why this can't be scaled up to handle large volume of users.

Re:How would it handle a large load? (2)

hibiki_r (649814) | about 9 months ago | (#45400157)

It doesn't matter how many servers it's hosted in today, but how many servers they could scale it to tomorrow. The techniques to become scalable are fairly well known, as hundreds of sites get hammered like that every day. Reactive programming and all that.

Anyone building a website today that has a design relying on components that can't be easily scaled should look for a different line of business.

Re:How would it handle a large load? (4, Informative)

OakDragon (885217) | about 9 months ago | (#45400267)

One of the major sticking points about HealthCare.gov was that you had to create an account. This was done so that information could be gathered to provide you with pricing after subsidies . The idea was to lessen the sticker shock. I haven't read it explicitly in regard to this site, but I'm assuming it does not calculate your subsidy for you.

Re:How would it handle a large load? (5, Informative)

OakDragon (885217) | about 9 months ago | (#45400299)

Hush my mouth, I tooled around their site a little, and they do estimate your subsidy, based on income and number of people in your household. So right now, this is much more useful that HealthCare.gov - at least for information purposes.

Re:How would it handle a large load? (3, Informative)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 9 months ago | (#45400353)

Looking at the code, it seems they are using Amazon and make use of it's CDN services.
It's mostly simple HTML, interaction in JS and a lot of advertising, social media and tracking scripts, which are hosted outside their scope.
My gut feeling tells me they'd have no problem scaling up at all. At worst they'd just clone the virtual server a few times.

Re:How would it handle a large load? (1)

gravis777 (123605) | about 9 months ago | (#45400445)

The site is pretty, easy to use, and I got the information I needed in about 5 seconds of entering the site, and was redirected to the providers site, as it should be. HealthCare.gov made took me about 30 seconds just now to get to a portion of the site that then required me to make a username to continue (I don't remember seeing that two weeks ago).

Point is, as this site is keeping people on their site for much less time than the government site is, you could assume that it uses significantly less resources per person. If you scalled this site onto the governement's datacenter, it might actually work and fix the issue, even with hundreds of thousands hitting it.

In any case, I don't care. My health insurance is paid for by my employer, and I toss in a few bucks a month on top of it. If I were a contractor, though, I would be pissed at what these plans actually cost.

Re:How would it handle a large load? (1)

flipk (1187739) | about 9 months ago | (#45400593)

Exactly. This was posted on gizmodo last week, and the site crashed shortly after that due to the click load. The comment I made at the time was: It is one thing to build a nice web site with a nice interface. It is quite another to build a nice web site that talks to a real database. It is quite a third thing to build a nice web site that talks to a real database and can handle a thousand users. It is quite a fourth thing to build a nice web site that talks to a real database and can handle a million users. It is quite a fifth thing to build a nice web site that talks to a real database and can handle a hundred million users. It is a sixth thing to do all that and talk to 50 databases. It is a seventh thing to do all that and talk to 50 databases managed by a hundred different state agencies and insurance companies who can't all seem to read an API spec the same way.

Re:How would it handle a large load? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400603)

It's hosted by Amazon Web Services through Heroku, so they can scale as needed.

  www.thehealthsherpa.com canonical name = healthcare-exchange-comparison.herokuapp.com.
  healthcare-exchange-comparison.herokuapp.com canonical name = us-east-1-a.route.herokuapp.com.
  us-east-1-a.route.herokuapp.com canonical name = argon-stack-1879049447.us-east-1.elb.amazonaws.com.
  Name: argon-stack-1879049447.us-east-1.elb.amazonaws.com
  Address: 50.17.229.49
  Name: argon-stack-1879049447.us-east-1.elb.amazonaws.com
  Address: 54.243.121.176
  Name: argon-stack-1879049447.us-east-1.elb.amazonaws.com
  Address: 107.21.237.25
  Name: argon-stack-1879049447.us-east-1.elb.amazonaws.com
  Address: 107.22.174.168
  Name: argon-stack-1879049447.us-east-1.elb.amazonaws.com
  Address: 174.129.35.141
  Name: argon-stack-1879049447.us-east-1.elb.amazonaws.com
  Address: 184.73.211.6
  Name: argon-stack-1879049447.us-east-1.elb.amazonaws.com
  Address: 23.21.166.91
  Name: argon-stack-1879049447.us-east-1.elb.amazonaws.com
  Address: 23.23.214.121

It is simple (4, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | about 9 months ago | (#45399941)

I recall when web pages began to become popular technology. Everyone would ask me how I could possible be paid so much money to develop software when anyone with GoLive could put up a website in an evening.

Re:It is simple (3, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about 9 months ago | (#45400567)

I still get idiots asking for me to build them a company website and only expect it to cost a couple hundred bucks.
Most shit themselves when I qoute "$50 an hour, you can buy 10 hour blocks and I estimate the website will take 40 hours IF you make no changes at all from the scope of work you just gave me. Any changes are billed at hourly rate, minimum 2 hours, if it takes me 2 hours and 10 minutes, you pay for 4 hours

This eliminates the idiots that thing they can get a cheap website and only the customers that understand business

Oh vomit (1, Insightful)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about 9 months ago | (#45399949)

"so our site is only possible because of the hard work that the Healthcare.gov team has done"

Sorry, no. this information was already out there. How do you think people found insurance online before? Lipstick on a pig is right.

Re:Oh vomit (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400107)

Exactly.

"Our site doesn't connect to the IRS, DHS, and various state exchanges and authorities"

So they put a new front end on the part that works, and completely left out the part that didn't work.

Next they should take their little PHP widget and connect it to dozens of federal agencies, 33 state governments, 400 insurance companies, and 4000 insurance plans. All in real time. Then throw in congress, the white house, and 4,000 pages of functional requirements.

Seriously folks, the "glitch" isn't in the source code.

Re:Oh vomit (2)

mhajicek (1582795) | about 9 months ago | (#45400447)

What I wonder is why healthcare.gov is connecting to DHS...

Re:Oh vomit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400453)

Actually, there is something useful here.

The Kaiser Family Foundation calculator [kff.org] has been working fine for months now. I looked into whether the Health Sherpas might improve on that. They do. The KFF calculator comes up with a single annual figure for a Silver plan; the Sherpa calculator brings up a comprehensive list of available plans along with monthly premiums.

I had already looked to my state's web site to find which providers were available, and sure enough, they were on the Sherpa list. Also, there was indeed a silver plan listed that exactly matched the estimate that KFF gave me.

If you are not eligible for the subsidy (I'm not either), why go through the exchange? The Sherpa does a very useful thing in listing your options. The fact that they don't connect with the byzantine government backend is actually a win for people who don't need the subsidy.

We'll see in the next hour... (1)

jddeluxe (965655) | about 9 months ago | (#45399957)

...if their site gets slashdotted....

Re:We'll see in the next hour... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400023)

I saw them mentioned a couple days ago on a national news site. At that time their site did not load. I ended up getting a 500 error. Which is much better than the blank page and endless loops I got from the ACA site. Definitely an improvement.

Towel for that egg, Barry? (1, Insightful)

pla (258480) | about 9 months ago | (#45399965)

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.

Translation: "We accomplished something in a few weeks that the wastes of flesh in charge of this boondoggle couldn't do in two years and with vastly better access to internal information".

Fire CGI Federal with prejudice (no more government contracts, ever, and no pay for their failures so far). Imprison their CEO for fraud against the American people. And give the 100+ million to these three guys. Give 'em the resources they need to finish their version of the project, and a year to repair this whole massive clusterfuck.

You want a good portal design, hire hungry young geeks, not old-guard defense contractors who still consider ADA an edgy new language.

Re:Towel for that egg, Barry? (1)

Mike Quickenton (2935751) | about 9 months ago | (#45400041)

Oooo. They created a site that connects to a web service and lists stuff. I suppose if we gave them a couple more weeks they will have verified income, immigration status, national security checks, and waded through every states muddled regulations for insurance. It's not a portal. It is a commerce site for a very complicated widget.

Re:Towel for that egg, Barry? (4, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | about 9 months ago | (#45400307)

No, that quote is saying that their website was easier to implement and has less issues because it does only a small fraction of what HealthCare.gov does. They don't have to query all those sources, they don't have to handle magnitudes higher load volume, etc. So of course something that is far more simplistic than HealthCare.gov is likely to have far less issues, but that isn't really saying much.

Errr... no. (4, Insightful)

sirwired (27582) | about 9 months ago | (#45400443)

You utterly misunderstand what this website does. You punch in your zip code and age, it spits back plans and rack-rate premiums. That's it. That's the part of healthcare.gov that actually works, and has since they rolled out the feature a few days after launch.

The part of the government website that is having all the problems is the part where you actually sign up for the plans. That's what is requiring a large amount of integration, and has been doing horribly. Because of how the law was written (specifically the parts on subsidy eligibility) it's a little more complicated than processing a shopping cart on Amazon. (Business rules validation/integration is the most difficult part of most business applications.)

Translation: "In a few weeks we created a pretty front end to the part of the website that is really easy to write."

I'm not saying the healthcare.gov rollout was done well, or that the main contractor didn't botch the job. I'm just saying that this website doesn't provide any evidence of it.

Re:Towel for that egg, Barry? (4, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 9 months ago | (#45400491)

Translation: "We accomplished something in a few weeks that the wastes of flesh in charge of this boondoggle couldn't do in two years and with vastly better access to internal information".

Translation: "I can't read"!

"We accomplished something in a few weeks that the wastes of flesh in charge of this boondoggle couldn't do in two years" - nope, that's not what he's saying. He's saying "We did something different in two weeks, something much simpler but considerably less functional."

"and with vastly better access to internal information" - misleading. He's saying that they was able to build upon the work that the original Healthcare.gov developers had done making the internal information available.

There's no question Heathcare.gov is a fiasco. But this project doesn't prove much, if anything at all. Take some work that's already been done, and build a functional shell that doesn't meet the full requirements? I can do that too. I can do it in two weeks. Given that scope, I'll rewrite Delta's reservation system in one day - sure, you won't be able to book any flights with it, or see what discounts you have available, but, uh, it'll work, save for that reservation thing.

Re:Towel for that egg, Barry? (0)

Lumpy (12016) | about 9 months ago | (#45400607)

It's not who is in charge, it's the idiot contractors they hired to do the job.

Silicon Valley Echo Chamber (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45399975)

No, it isn't better than Health.gov. It's a glorified frontend. Good work kids.

Young? (0)

nurb432 (527695) | about 9 months ago | (#45399985)

Umm i don't consider 20 young. I was coding professionally by that age. By "young", i'm thinking high school age.

Regardless of that, anyone with 1/2 a brain could do a better job in far less time.

Re:Young? (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 9 months ago | (#45400117)

When I was in high school, we had a few 20 year olds in our class. Of course, they were the sort of people who couldn't spell HTML in the first place...

Re:Young? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400223)

Umm i don't consider 20 young. I was coding professionally by that age. By "young", i'm thinking high school age.

A suckling babe, I assure you. You're really old now, right? Like... 24?

Re:Young? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 9 months ago | (#45400271)

No. Moron.

Re:Young? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400239)

just because you're still 14 and 20 seems like forever away, doesn't mean that 20 years is old.

once you finish school and have a job and stuff, it'll go by very quickly

Re:Young? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 9 months ago | (#45400247)

Speak for yourself, child.

Re:Young? (4, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | about 9 months ago | (#45400351)

Umm i don't consider 20 young.

You will. :-)

The 3 young coder did not have the same requiremen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45399989)

It is a vast difference between what they did, and what was required from healthcare.gov.

Granularity in services (4, Insightful)

biodata (1981610) | about 9 months ago | (#45400001)

The principle I see in action here is that if you break every task down into easy-to-implement components that do one simple thing well, then you can have three young coders build each component for you and each will probably work well. If you try to build a system which is more complex than that, the effort grows something like exponentially with the complexity, and the likelihood of early success shrinks correspondingly. If only we could get by with simple things and not bother with complex integrated online services.

Able to withstand Slashdotting effect... (1)

jkrise (535370) | about 9 months ago | (#45400025)

so in my book; that's much better than good enough. The original site should be nuked from orbit and this one should be put up instead. Pure and simple.

And behind the curtain we see ... (4, Interesting)

jamesl (106902) | about 9 months ago | (#45400043)

A search for insurance for a 65 year old single person with an annual income of $35,000 returned a "Market Young Adult Essentials" policy and a link to the insurance company's start page for finding available policies. This is not "A better portal to HealthCare.gov"

And then, there's the warning ... "The information provided here is for research purposes. Make sure to verify premiums and subsidies on your state exchange or healthcare.gov, or directly with the insurance company or an agent."

This is not good to go and less functional that even the real HealthCare.gov.

They left all the hard stuff out.

Re:And behind the curtain we see ... (1)

captbob2002 (411323) | about 9 months ago | (#45400081)

Shhh, you'll ruin the story.

Re:And behind the curtain we see ... (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 9 months ago | (#45400147)

From my experience last time I tried the Federal site, just getting *any* results is a step up, even if it's just an offer to ship you cocaine direct from Colombia for "pain management".

Re:And behind the curtain we see ... (4, Insightful)

jamesl (106902) | about 9 months ago | (#45400235)

None is better than wrong.

How long until these guys are hauled into court? (0)

bistromath007 (1253428) | about 9 months ago | (#45400071)

They will be. Slashdot's already had plenty of stories about people getting rung up for using and distributing data that's supposed to be public, and that's for things that Republicans haven't pledged to attack by any means necessary. I wouldn't be surprised to hear about criminal charges. And although it's unlikely, if they are convicted, they will go to and stay in prison. Obama's not going to want to save them, or he'll look even worse for all the awful shit his administration has pulled in the same fashion.

Re:How long until these guys are hauled into court (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400263)

They will be.

No, they won't.

Re:How long until these guys are hauled into court (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400559)

You should see someone about your paranoia. It's not healthy.

Unique Users (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 9 months ago | (#45400079)

In less than a week, the site has had almost 200,000 unique visitors and over half a million page views.

And now that it's linked on slashdot, I'm sure that number will plateau and taper off.

Probably not entirely surprising (1)

foxalopex (522681) | about 9 months ago | (#45400091)

Having worked for government, I can only say that I wouldn't be entirely surprised if a group of enthusiasts could do a much better job than a bunch of contracted government programmers. I often find contracted government work to be a complete mess, poorly documented and often using as many tools as they can charge for. While not everyone ends up like this it is more often than not the case.

Enthusiasts on the other hand are more interested in what works, not so much in what is politically the best tool to use or how much to charge the taxpayer.

Re:Probably not entirely surprising (1)

RobinH (124750) | about 9 months ago | (#45400181)

As if we have any proof that Health Sherpa is well documented and scalable.

Re:Probably not entirely surprising (1)

stewsters (1406737) | about 9 months ago | (#45400389)

Its getting slashdotted right now and is still up. That's more than I can say about most <1 month old sites. Whats to document? Its probably a few solr servers for searching balanced round robin by haproxy with nginx serving the mostly static pages.

It seems like a simple design, which is what healthcare.gov should have tried to be. I'm guessing feature creep stopped it from being so simple.

Should be in the API business (4, Insightful)

canadiannomad (1745008) | about 9 months ago | (#45400095)

Seems to me that the government ought to be in the API business, making all their tools open to developers that can then take the information and the forms, fill them out get details, etc. Make life easy for developers and then let the public create the interfaces.
I could see a lot of great things coming out of such a model.

Re:Should be in the API business (1)

canadiannomad (1745008) | about 9 months ago | (#45400133)

Obviously anything that requires confidential information should be received though portal pages and tokens returned to make sure the developer is limited in their access / retention abilities. .. And sites/apps that use confidential information would have to meet certain standards to be approved....

Re:Should be in the API business (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 9 months ago | (#45400317)

Seems to me that the government ought to be in the API business, making all their tools open to developers that can then take the information and the forms, fill them out get details, etc. Make life easy for developers and then let the public create the interfaces.

They do make the data open hence why this site can even exist.

US Government in the Web Application Business... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400099)

The US shouldn't be in this business. It's a tried and true path, and they REALLY, REALLY, REALLY screwed the pooch on this one.

Those of us who wanted this should have our heads examined... The US government is not going to be more efficient or better at health insurance than what's been in place for generations...

Just wait until enough people die from having to wait for bureaucratic red tape (or any scenario the US can't do as well as private enterprise), and this blood will be on the hands of those who wanted this, and argued for it.

A website... they can't do it right. Health care? Insurance? OMG. The US is full of morons.

Big government is about the worst idea possible. There is so much evidence of this throughout the world, and it's staring you in the face at home.... yet people somehow think this is a good idea.

Get health care out of government hands... seriously. Stop the takeover of the US government before it's too late.

Re: US Government in the Web Application Business. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400205)

You don't like the website then?

SIte not working (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400125)

The site does not appear to be working. Pages load, but there are no results for queries. Perhaps we should complain?

Re:SIte not working (1)

barlevg (2111272) | about 9 months ago | (#45400155)

Having the same problem. Based on the above comments, I think we all managed to slashdot it.

Re:SIte not working (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400159)

Ahh, it doesn't appear to have data for all zip codes. Also, it can't be read with a screen reader (for the visually impaired).

Expensive! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400279)

Wow! Seeing the prices you pay for private medical insurance (And these are the subsidised ones? And they only cover 60-90% of your expenses?) I'm glad to pay less than that through taxes here in my so called socialist country.

Re:Expensive! (0)

Desler (1608317) | about 9 months ago | (#45400331)

Git yer commie bullshit out of here, pinko!

*cocks shotgun*

This duplicates the part that actually works (1)

sirwired (27582) | about 9 months ago | (#45400373)

There are two parts to the healthcare.gov website. The one where you can simply search for plans available in your zip code, and the one where you actually sign up. The one where you search for plans in your zipcode works just fine, and that's what they've duplicated here.

The far more complex part of the website (the one that requires talking to, and integrating data from, a very large pile of different databases) is the part not working well.

Translation: They created a pretty front-end to a database-driven site somebody else made. Hardly the labors of Hercules.

one thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45400471)

I will bet their site didn't cost the taxpayers 50 Mil, just saying...

Once Data Gets to the Government (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | about 9 months ago | (#45400605)

Once personal data gets to the government, I would fully expect scammers, identity thieves, etc. to get a hold of this.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?
or Connect with...

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>