How 3 coders created a DIY fix to HealthCare.gov
For untold numbers of health-care consumers looking to research plans under the Affordable Care Act's online exchanges, a much-maligned website often served as their main deterrent.
A few weeks ago, George Kalogeropoulos and two other San Francisco programmers, Ning Liang and Michael Wasser, created a work-around in about three days, he told CNBC on Monday.
The friends built a cleaner, stripped-down version of HealthCare.gov—the federal site that was intended to let people research and enroll in plans but instead became the prime target for critics of Obamacare—that has attracted about 500,000 visitors in the past few weeks, Kalogeropoulos said on "Squawk on the Street."
They named the website HealthSherpa.com.
"The data was there," Kalogeropoulos said on "Squawk on the Street." "It really was about just making it easier to search and find plans."
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Visitors cannot enroll in plans on HealthSherpa.com but can compare coverage and rates based on their ZIP codes.
Kalogeropoulos told CNBC that users who qualify for a subsidy are referred back to HealthCare.gov. The site also put users directly in touch with insurers, he said.
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell told CNBC on Monday that he has been directing residents to the state-run website because of the glitchy federal website. As of Thursday, however, only 136 people had signed up for coverage through the Delaware exchange, while 12,000 there had learned their policies were canceled, according to The Washington Post.
"I think everybody admits it's going in the wrong direction," Markell said on "Squawk Box." "And so there's no question, the most important thing is to get the website fixed. But No. 2, we've actually taken a number of steps to make sure, for example, that people who can't qualify for this subsidy can go to our website."
Kalogeropoulos doesn't fault the programmers who developed HealthCare.gov but instead blamed policy decisions, such as forcing people to sign up before they could see policy rates.
"The government is trying to do a lot with HealthCare.gov—sign people up, verify their income, check their immigration status," he said. "And when you try to do all of that in one place, it necessarily gets pretty complicated."
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