As Founding Director of The Foundation For Health Coverage Education, I have interesting access to areas of health care and health insurance others do not get to see. Our web site has the entire US health insurance system on line. Folks simply answer 5 questions and the program tells them the plans, public or private, for which they are eligible. It provides them applications, contact information and eligibility requirements. It takes about one minute.
As part of the healthcare reform bill, the US government is creating a copy of our web site. We have had over 2 million unique visitors to our site. We built the site over the last 6 years in order to help lower the uninsured numbers. We invested about $500,000 in software and information gathering. Our site is ranked the number one site in America for health insurance information by Kiplinger's.
Enter the government. When we heard about their effort to copy our concept, we offered to let them have our site for free or use what we have already created. We contacted HHS, Congressmen and Senators to no avail. They liked what we had but it "was not invented in Washington DC." In their first effort to create a site, that does not do nearly what ours does, they put a budget out of $12.5m. Add in all of the government workers and I would double the cost to $25m to get this done.
Once completed they will have an army of federal workers and contractors on board to keep it up to date. They really did not need to make this site, but it creates lots of jobs. Did I mention that our foundation which handles all of this information for millions of citizens only has two employees. The world is flat, but not in Washington DC.