What Healthcare.gov Can Learn From Health Sherpa


Finally an answer to all our Obamacare problems! Or is it?

Earlier this week, three computer programmers based out of San Francisco launched HealthSherpa.com. The site has since been widely lauded by multiple media outlets, who’ve declared it as a great alternative to the much maligned Healthcare.gov, the online portal created by the federal government for citizens to compare and sign up for health insurance. Not only were Ning Liang, George Kalogeropoulous, and Michael Wasser—the programmers in question—able to create a functioning site, they also did it over the course of three days and at a cost of a few hundred dollars.


So, is Health Sherpa “a better Healthcare.gov” ? No. But don’t take my word for it. Ning Liang himself will tell you as much.

“It’s not really fair to compare us to them because they’re a totally different website,” he told The Morning Show.

“I would say that a better headline would be ‘Three Guys Built a Better Shopping Tool for Healthcare.gov.”

As Liang points out, Health Sherpa was meant to supplement (and not supplant) the ObamaCare site. Their page doesn’t give users the ability to sign up for a plan online, much less see if they qualify for a federal subsidy. What they simply do is provide visitors a list of insurance estimates based on their zip code.

So, if this isn't a replacement then why all the hype?

The key is the immediate gratification. With Health Sherpa you get the quotes upfront, and while these might change depending on your personal circumstances, at least you get an idea of what options you might have.


In contrast, going through the Healthcare.gov almost feels like filing your taxes. You have to go through a lot of steps just to register an account in the first place. After that, there’s 30 to 40 minutes of data entry before you get to the quotes (and that’s assuming the site doesn’t crash on you in the first place).

Nobody would say that the implementation of ObamaCare would be easy, but a lot of the frustration could have been avoided if users had the slightest clue in the beginning of the costs.


Fidel Martinez is an editor at Fusion.net. He's also a Texas native and a lifelong El Tri fan.