The site healthcare.gov has been criticized lately for its design and difficult of use. Recently, a group of coders in Silicon Valley created https://www.healthcare.gov/ as an alternative to shopping for health care plans.
Visually, the site looks great. It is filled with color and is attractive to the user. The site definitely has a modern look and feel to it. However, there is too much text on the homepage that makes it difficult for the user to absorb. The four buttons to the right are also confusing since you must hover over them to see where they lead to. There are plenty of fonts, font weights, and colors used to distinguish different parts of the page. The step by step flow chart of the “How the Marketplace works” is helpful although the images appear as if they were buttons. The color palette consisting of the dark blue and lighter blue are distinctive and make the site look sleek.
My first instinction is to click “Apply online” if I am interested in getting health insurance. Once I do, I am greeted with the words “Welcome to the marketplace.” However, there is a blue and orange icon to the right of it that appear to be buttons but are not. I almost did not even notice the “Choose your state and we’ll tell you your next steps” part. Once you follow the steps and create an account, the site walks you through the steps to get insurance. While the site is functional, there are too many steps and pages you must go through. For example, when you click “See plans now”, you must click the “plans and sample prices” hyperlink in the following page (after you find it of course) before getting to the questions.
Compared to healthcare.gov, thehealthsherpa is much more simple and basic. There is also less text cluttering the screen. The site also appears more plain with the blue buttons appearing more distinctive. This neutral look in my opinion is visually less offensive and shocking. The font and color for text here are all similar while they are different on the government site.
There is no question of “where to go” as the site directs you to enter you zip code. The site even has an example zip code to help you out. Once you put in your zip code, you are immediately presented with health care plans. You can easily change settings around like age, plan type, and subsidy. Although you cannot directly sign up for the plan you choose, thehealthsherpa links you to their site and provides instructions as well.
Overall, thehealthsherpa wins the battle. The site’s ease of use and simplistic design triumphs in comparison to the difficulty in using the government site with its complex design. With thehealthsherpa, I was able to find plans and pricing much faster.
I would recommend removing any images from healthcare.gov that resemble buttons. Also, it would be better to simplify the site by removing text. It’s not that healthcare.gov is terrible but simply needs some design changes and will be much better.