The state of Kentucky built an efficient, operating healthcare insurance exchange web site in contrast with HealthCare.gov, the federal site (see: How Kentucky Built The Country's Best Obamacare Website). The recipe for success in Kentucky involved the following steps that I quote below from the article:
- It was designed as a pared-down website engineered to perform the basic functions well. There was also a concerted effort to test it as frequently as possible to work out glitches before the October 1 launch.
- The governor of the state, Steve Beshear. officially created the marketplace, now named Kynect, on July 17, 2012, a few weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. Link to it if you are so inclined.
- In October 2012, the state hired software developers to build the technological infrastructure behind the marketplace.
- Testing was undertaken throughout every step of the process, said Kynect's executive director, and it allowed state officials to identify problems early in the process.
- From January 2013 to March, the Kentucky web site team designed the system; from April to June, they built it; from July to September, they tested it.
- This timeline stands in stark contrast to the picture painted by federal contractors at last week's hearing on HealthCare.gov which underwent testing only for two weeks before launch.
- From a design standpoint, Kentucky made the conscious choice to stick to the basics rather than seeking to impress users with a state-of-the-art interface.
- Beyond its operational function, the Kentucky web site also plays a role as an ambassador of sorts to convince skeptical residents who might not be inclined to support anything to do with the Affordable Care Act.
For me, these points could not be more clear. I fully understand that there are scale issues at play here when comparing the Kentucky site to HealthCare.gov but the steps outlined above are a good plan for a web site regardless of the anticipated volume of users. I suppose that you could also say that the Kentucky site was operating underneath the national political radar but let's give the state a little credit for good planning. In a bit of an understatement, Andrew Slavitt, group executive vice president at Optum/QSSI, told a congressional committee: "It would have been better to have more time [to develop the federal web site]." (see: Major Conflict of Interest with QSSI, the Contractor for the Health Insurance Exchange).