Programmers build alternative that works — in a weekend!

Michael Wasser, Ning Liang, and George Kalogeropoulos (l-r) designed HealthSherpa as an answer to glitch-ridden Photo credit: CBS News

Three San Francisco programmers in their 20s proved just how inept’s architects were, taking just a few nights to design a simplified version of the glitch-ridden contraption.

Michael Wasser, Ning Liang and George Kalogeropoulos, who share office space with other Bay-area techies, built an alternative website,, that resolves users’ main complaint – easy access to plan descriptions, according to CBS News. And it didn’t take them $600 million to do it.

“They got it completely backwards in terms of what people want up front,” Liang said. “They want prices and benefits, so that they could make the decision.”

He then showed how the team addressed that problem: “You come to our website and you put in your ZIP code — in this case, a California ZIP code. You hit ‘Find Plans,’ and you immediately see the exchange plans that are available for that ZIP code.”

CBS News reported:

They have plenty of experience working at places like Twitter and Microsoft before setting out to build their own Internet companies. But this project is a public service.

* * *
Using information buried in the government’s own website built by high-priced government contractors, they found a simpler way to present it to users.

“That’s the great thing about having such a small team,” Kalogeropoulos said. “You sit around a table and say, ‘OK, how does this work?’ There’s no coordination meetings, there’s no planning sessions. It’s like, ‘Well, let’s read the document and let’s implement this.'”

At this point, I’d suggest that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sue the Canadian firm that stole our money for a failed website, turn those dollars over to these three enterprising young men, and give them an additional weekend to finish things up.

We’d keep the money in the country and end up with a workable website. Besides, I’m sure the guys could use an extra $600 million — they’re young and struggling entrepreneurs.

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