Friday, 25 October 2013

The Code Writers

Years ago, in my Air Force period, I worked around military and contractor software programmers.  I'm not a techno geek, a IT wizard, or science guy.  I'm a farm kid that grew up, watched jeopardy, read a thousand-odd books, attended a couple of universities and colleges, and learned to appreciate Bama common sense and logic.

For some reason, I fell into the programmer crowd and their taste for logical statements.  You can't be into software programming....unless you grasp logic and how it must pass a logic test, or it fails.  Software is written to meet conditions of A, B, and C.  If you introduce D.....it fails.  If the software has a glitch with B, it fails.  If the statement for A is incomplete....it fails.

For me, this was great company, and an enjoyable period....where logic was tested daily, and things tended to work.

As the last couple of months have unfolded with the healthcare business....I came to realize this odd story sticking out in the business arena.  National press media...like Newsweek or CNN....would not likely touch this story.  Even Fox would just leave it to the side because it's not fitting into the normal list of topics.

You see.....as the program software writters got deeper into the healthcare platform....they came to this odd logic versus illogic problem.

The law states that you can't charge older folks more than three times what you charge younger folks, for health insurance.  If Karl Junior's insurance rate is $100 a month, then you can't charge Uncle Donny more than $300.  Well....Uncle Donny generally costs more than $300 a month.  So you had to invent a gimmick logical statement in the computer that says you will articifially raise Karl Junior's insurance to a point where it's fitting into the law's requirement.  Karl Junior might only need $1200 a year for health insurance by the old model....but because of the law and Uncle Donny....Karl Junior now must by $2400, to meet the 'three-times' rule of the law.

The program guys saw this and had no problem in writting a software code that met that situation.  As you can imagine.....there's likely three hundred lines of code (unknown to the precise amount because the gov't won't admit that)....so it's not exactly a simple tasking.

The code guy finishes that and pats himself on the back because it works.  It might not be smart or logical in the business world....but the code guy can make it work on the computer.

But now, this odd second thing occurs.  The law also has this smoker rule attached to it.  The smoker rule says that a older smoker can pay up to three times what a younger smoker would pay.  So if Uncle Karl smoked two packs a day.....he ought to pay three times what Karl Junior pays (if Karl smokes).

The software guys stood there and observed the two laws, as written.

Then they said.....they can't write a software code for the smoking deal.....if the code exists for Uncle Karl to be limited to three times the cost of insurance of Karl Junior.

This would all work fine....if you just said all smokers pay some additional fee of X dollars.  Or if you'd said that old and young smokers are basically the same creature.

In simple terms....it's unfixable for programming software writers.  There's no common logic.

This all came out in late June and nothing much has been talked in open media over the fix.  I doubt that any fix has occurred, and the one or two guys assigned to the smoker code are just standing out back of the building.....mostly smoking Camels, discussing NCAA football, and sipping Dr Pepper.  They can't fix....what is unfixable.

Software coding is a unique skill.  I came to note after a while that all code-writers are logical folks.  They generally all watch Star Trek and Stargate.  They sip a lot of Mountain Dew.  They generally all brag about the college project where they wrote thousand lines of code for a program that picked a NCAA March Madness winner or predicted the outcome of a marriage between Wonder Woman and Superman.

 It's a fair mess, but somewhere out there....there's probably some guy who could splice together a 300,000 line software code to balance the perfect nature between old guys and young guys, with old smokers and young smokers.  And yeah, it might even include a way to register to vote....in six different states.  It's all logical.

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