It's official: the Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act, which, however you feel about it, means 32 million Americans will likely gain health care coverage. A part of the legislation dictates that all those people, by law, need somewhere to enroll, compare coverage, and purchase insurance. The design consultancy Ideo has spent more than a year putting together an open-source template to keep the potential paperwork from crushing everyone before they even have health insurance to cover the damage.
Even if you aren't familiar with Ideo, there's a solid chance you've used or have heard of some of their work--Apple came to them in 1980 to design the mouse for their Lisa computer, and in the past decade they've come up with modern ideas for the Madden NFL videogame franchise, Samuel Adams beer taps, and a whole lot more. This isn't the first public-sector project Ideo has put together, but it might be one of the most complicated. They aren't designing something just for an overarching government agency like the TSA or Centers for Disease Control, but for individual U.S. states to take apart and use themselves. Doing that simply and with style is a major load for most existing templates.
With funds from nonprofit groups led by the California Healthcare Foundation, Ideo unveiled the Enroll UX 2014 prototype earlier this month. It's a customizable template that any state is free to use for building health insurance exchanges, the insurance guidance systems mandated by law. The majority of those 32 million getting insured will end up going through one of these exchanges.
Eighteen states have shown interest and support for the project (including conservative states who disavow the law) since the team started work in 2011. Some have said they'll take the design portion of it wholesale; others want to take pieces and make something of their own. To make that possible, the template needs to be simple enough for states to Frankenstein away what they need for their own exchanges. The UX prototype looks good, even if "government website" sets a low bar, and is probably straightforward enough to accomplish that goal. Insurance policy jargon is boiled down to a basic set of questions, like, "How important is it for you to be able to see a specialist without a referral from another doctor?" Then you get everything you need to find coverage, including companies, rates, and physicians.
Since health insurance policies tend to be long-term investments, the system also lets people switch plans in the future: a "changes in circumstances" section can help a user to update their life situation and make changes to their coverage accordingly. Which is good, since the ACA is in its infancy. "There are still questions that remain to be answered," says Christian Palino, senior project leader at Ideo, "and the policy is changing all the time."
With millions of people being filtered through, endless forms and files can't sustain the process. Now it's on a ticking clock, too. Several states were holding out on forming exchanges until the Court made a ruling, and an already tight deadline for them is tighter. If it comes down to it, the project is there as a safety net--one built from scratch by a popular design firm.
How many of those 32 million people will end up using the Ideo system? It's hard to say, but it looks like it'll end up being a significant portion. The big ticket for its wide use is at the national level. It's not set in stone, but the government has expressed interest in using it there. If a state misses the 2013 deadline, or flat-out refuses to make exchanges, the feds will do it themselves, and that's more than likely going to happen in parts of the country.
We won't officially know until the deadline what the enrollment systems will look like in each state. The country could still end up with something either generally consistent, or a patchwork with the Ideo project acting as a big part of it. But if 32 million people make it through a government system without a paper trail to the moon, that's a step in the right direction.
Douglas Engelbart designed the mouse. He was not working for Apple or Ideo at the time, since he did so in 1963.
When the government raises the educationa base and the work base of our country, so rises all lifes benefits. Availabilty of health insurace seems a lesser priority, than lower cost of higher education, giving more opprotunity for individuals and business, finally just creating higher technical, professional jobs.
Offering benefits like health care is useless, if a person has no job or the money to support the health care he signs up for.
"Apple came to them in 1980 to design the mouse for their Lisa computer"
You really REALLY need to not get hung up in the policitcal ferver of AHA debates and actually check your facts.
The first commercial mouse was designed by Xerox corp.
"Bill English, builder of Engelbart's original mouse, created a ball mouse in 1972 while working for Xerox PARC in 1968."
I just don't see how this could be any better than running the current wasteful government programs. The crooks will be ripping it off left and right. The people who this is for will not pay their fair share. It will be the middle class taking this on the chin. The rich will still have unlimited access to the best care.
I just hope it doesn't get as bad as Canada's health care system. If you believe in Darwinism then that care does make the survival of the fittest true.
As a medical software designer, I have to say they did a great job. Lovely, usable design.
The National Health Service in the UK is great. I've been sick all over the world and England really cares. Healthy citizens means healthy country. Can't you Yanks figure it out? Oh that's right Fox News does your thinking for you.