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New Healthcare.gov is Open, CMS-Free

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

This is a cross-post from a Development Seed blog exit disclaimer icon about upcoming improvements to Healthcare.gov.  The author is a contractor leading the technical strategy and development of heathcare.gov. From his work previously on President Obama's White House staff, he is a known advocate of open source software and government innovation.

Recently HHS CTO Bryan Sivak outlined a new vision for healthcare.gov. The site will relaunch this June with a completely rethought design and architecture.

The new healthcare.gov follows a new CMS-free exit disclaimer icon philosophy. It will be a completely static website, generated by Jekyll exit disclaimer icon. This shift will allow HHS to move away from the use of a content management system for managing Heathcare.gov.   Website generators like Jekyll work by combining template files with content and rendering them to static html pages. These generator tools provide a balance between content creation and editing flexibility resulting in an incredibly fast and reliable website.

The new website’s code and content will be accessible in two important ways.  First, everything HHS does will be published on GitHub exit disclaimer icon. GitHub is an open source code repository developers can use to share and collaborate on projects. This service is the new standard for sharing and collaborating on all sorts of projects exit disclaimer icon, from city geographic data and laws to home renovation projects and even wedding planning, as well as traditional software projects.

With the new Heathcare.gov’s code available on GitHub others will be able to reuse the entire code-base as they see fit. This is incredibly valuable because some states will set up their own state-based health insurance marketplaces. They will be able to easily check out and build upon the work being done at the federal level.

The second key component of the new heathcare.gov’s openness is that all content will be available through an API. This is a tool that allows for the reuse of information and content. Other governmental or private sector websites will be able to use the API to embed content from healthcare.gov. As official content gets updated on healthcare.gov, the new content will update automatically appear on websites using the healthcare.gov API.

As we redesign Heathcare.gov we will be posting blogs related to the project here.  If you have questions or comments about the changes let us know.

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Submitted by Dennis on
I am trying to use the api documented at https://finder.healthcare.gov/services but trhe published link https://finder.healthcare.gov/services/version_2_0 always returns a 503 (Server down) error. Has the link changed? Is there better information anywhere?
Submitted by SM on
How does healthcare.gov tie in with cms.gov? An agent/broker wants to know. Please explain.
Submitted by Dean Shaw on
What web analytics package are you using on the Healthcare.gov site?
Submitted by Roger Gietzen MD on
I thought the same thing, wow CMS free! It sure caught my eye. I think that would have been a more exciting post to be honest :)
Submitted by Mary on
Context is everything...when I saw "CMS-free" in the title for something on an hhs site, my first reaction was why are they dissing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid?? So now (thanks to the miracle of hypertext) I realize that is stands for Content Management System. Kudos on your good work in crafting a more robust and meaningful web experience. PS.there's a typo in the Join the Conversation head above this comment box. :)
Submitted by Chris, Digital Communications Division/HHS on
Haha, Mary we would never DISrespect the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid! Thanks for the not on the typo, I've just ticketed that to get fixed.