Healthcare.gov Switches to Command Line Interface

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Amid growing frustration with long wait times and inaccurate information, Healthcare.gov, the Federal system to register for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (aka "ObamaCare"), has switched from a Graphical User Interface (GUI) to a Command Line Interface effective immediately.

Instead of going to a web site, which is prone to errors, slowness, etc., users now Telnet into healthcare.gov using a terminal emulation program appropriate for their operating system. Users log in to the system using their Social Security number. No password is required. Once logged in, a variety of options are available. Some are listed here.

  • P-SHOW: Show information about a plan. The output can be piped using the | more switch. After entering the name of the plan, users must also enter the plan I.D.
  • P-FIND: Find an insurance plan using the command line parameters specified. Valid parameters are:
        -A: age
        -S: smoker (Sy=smoker yes, Sn=smoker no, Sq=smoker quit)
        -D: dependents and their ages, separated by semicolons
        -X sex (m=male, f=female, t=transgendered, u=gender unaffiliated, m=mixed gender)
        -LAT: latitude of the user's current location
        -LON: longitude of the user's current location
        -RAN maximum range of the search in feet.
    Commands should be strung together. For example: "P-FIND -A80SnXfLAT40.7208LON89.6094RAN132000D79" will search for an insurance policy for an 80 year old non-smoking female in Peoria IL with a 79 year-old dependent within a 25 mile range.
  • P-CHANGE: Change plan. Enter the old and new number of the plan separated by colons. For example P-CHANGE 3Z983123332:4F34721732 will change from Blue Cross to Aetna.
  • P-DELETE: Delete a plan. Enter the plan number, followed by a colon, followed by a credit card number against which to charge the fine for being uninsured

Tech4Days called the Department of Health and Human Services to ask the most common question users have regarding the new system. I.T. Director Wilbur Hutchinson responded: "that's easy. The question we get asked the most is 'What's Telnet?'."