Friday, October 14, 2011

Some things from the US that bother me.

I wish my mom kept a blog, because so much of what goes on in her life would make for interesting reading. (I mean, just imagine if you could have followed the Deliverance Drama from the very beginning!) But, as my mother is not a blogger, I'll just have to share info on her behalf. I hope she doesn't mind.

My mother lives in the USA. She is a US citizen. The current year is 2011.

Four years ago, my mother brought eight acres of land in the country, just outside of the small town where she lives. Her plan was to put some of it into pasture, get some horses, and eventually move a house out there. She has certainly done all of this: horses? check! house? check! There's just one minor thing that hasn't yet been taken care of: There's no electricity out at her land.

Now, I've always known that people must pay their electric bills, or else their electricity would be turned off. What I didn't realize was how much money one would have to spend to obtain electricity if there wasn't already a power-line running past one's property. Perhaps I'm just foolish and naive, but I had honestly thought that in the USA in our modern era, everyone had the right to electricity, so long as they paid their monthly bills. Well, everyone does have the right... as long as one can personally shell out the funds to build the infrastructure.


My mom's land is located on an un-named private access road. (I use the term "road" loosely, as it's more of an un-maintained dirt track, part of which floods when it rains. I have literally taken a kayak down part of her "road" in the past.) The nearest electric powerline is located less than half a mile from her property. There are two power companies in her general part of the country, although only one operates in her specific location. Both companies told my mother that she would be responsible for all the costs of installing a powerline to her location.

The first company (which later turned out to not be the company she needed) estimated that it would cost $10,000. The other company, luckily, said they could do it for just over half that. Still, $5000 is a lot of cash. Both companies told my mother that the money had to be paid up front; she couldn't do it in monthly installments. Both companies also said that if someone decided to move in to any of the properties along the new powerline after my mother paid to have it installed, they (the new residents) could use the powerline at no cost (other than monthly utility payments). My mother was rather upset by the thought that she could shell out over $5000 for electrification, and that someone else could move in and use "her" powerline without having to share the cost.

As such, my mom decided to wait. Perhaps someone else would decide to move out there, and they could split the cost of electrification. So, the land sat with no electricity.

In order for the horses and cats to have drinking water,
my mother had a well drilled, and a hand-pump installed.

It's been four years. No one else has moved out there. Most of the neighboring property owners have been foreclosed upon. And my mother just had a house moved out there. Finally my mom decided that it was time to bite the bullet and get the place electrified.

Just fork over a little more than $5k to the electric company, and everything will be taken care of, right? Alas, no. Before she can even do that, her "road" needs a name. For a place to get electricity, it has to have a mailing address, not just a plat number. In order to get a mailing address, one must be located on a named road. And in order to officially name one's private access road, one must pay $200 to the county.

Sigh. End rant #1. Begin rant #2.

I take two different medications every day. They're kind of hard to come by here in South Korea, so I'd been having my mom send them to me from the US. (Well, I get the expensive one from Canada; the other's on the cheap meds list at Wal-Mart, Rite Aid, etc.) There haven't been any problems with getting the one drug from Canada. However, there have been some shortages of one I've been getting from pharmacies in the US. (And because it's on the cheap meds lists at US pharmacies, it's actually more expensive to get it from Canada.)

It took several weeks before my prescription medication was available. The thing is, this isn't some rare, hard-to-come-by drug. In fact, it's pretty commonly prescribed for a bunch of different things. And yet there are shortages. (As a result of all this, I'll be checking out the International Clinic in Itaewon to see if I can get my meds from there.)

Today I heard from my mother that there is a shortage of one of the medications that she takes on a daily basis. Again, this is a commonly prescribed drug. And it's not just my mother's pharmacy of choice in her small community that's having these problems. It's nationwide. Here are just a handful of the articles I found on this topic. Apparently a lot of the drugs that are in short supply are the ones that are cheaper. The ones that are sold on the 'cheap meds' lists at places like Wal-Mart. Yeah. Welcome to the USA in 2011.

Prescription Drug Shortages Threaten Patient Care
Growing Shortage of Some Rx Drugs
What's behind prescription drug shortages?
Hospital Drug Shortages Present Costly Crisis


Anonymous said...

Most power companies will do this in monthly installments add to the powerbill each month until the outstanding balance is paid in full. I know this because for some reason I remember some relatives having to do this and discussing how much it cost. I can not believe the power company will not do monthly payments. Ridiculous. Phone companies used to do something similar.

Anonymity said...

When I was home someone (and I can't remember who) said that the power company in question was now requiring everything to be paid in advance, as too many new customers were getting foreclosed on and moving out, thus sticking the power company with the expense I've no idea if that's fact or rumor, though. Still, I find it odd that my mother would be required to shoulder the entire infrastructure expenses, especially when others could then sign on and use the service at no extra cost. We were hoping that she could have monthly installments, which could then be prorated were someone else to move in and use the line, that way they could share in the cost. It may very well not happen (the area isn't exactly booming!) but it would be so damn frustrating if my mom paid for the powerline, and then someone else moved out there the very next week. Gah!

Anonymous said...

Its also crazy considering that most power companies receive federal subsidies to build the infrastructure to power growth and development. Insane.!

Anonymous said...

On the plus side, just think of how long your mom has been using the electricity that someone else paid for originally. This situation is not surprising to me because I have always known this is how it works. But now that you point it out, it does seem weird!

John from Daejeon said...

My property is at an intersection between two different power companies. The cheaper of the two in the long run (a rural co-op) actually has the higher connection fees. They are close to $2,000 with $1,000 of it going to the cost of the damn post.

So, I am saving my pennies and going to go solar as I can cover my basic needs (including air conditioning) for about $3,500. Luckily, I am building in one of the best counties in the state of Texas when it comes to government intrusion as I can still drive my own water well without needing permits. I can also install the solar system myself without needing permits (or an electrician) as well. Other than not having much government intrusion, it is a pretty cruddy county overall.

John from Daejeon said...

I am also having similar problems with a medication that I have been on since I was five that is being taken off the shelves by the international community. Not because it doesn't work (it does--too well and too cheaply without the need to see a doctor and get a prescription), but because it supposedly causes enviromental damage. The real reason is that other drug companies want it removed from the market, so that they (and doctors) can make more money with alternative meds.

It is not fair, but that's the way the world works when lobbyists control the worlds' politicians. Lucky for me, I saw this coming, so I stockpiled several years' worth of it.

If you really need some of your medication badly, you might want to check out ebay or even India under the generic name.

Good luck!

Medical Transcriptionist said...

The international clinic in Itaewon is a dream, and so is Dr. Kim, who runs it. Since we have nationalized health insurance here, you will hopefully a) be able to get your medication super easy b) pay even less than the method you've been using so are. I take 2 daily medications, too, and pay somewhere around 1/4 of what I paid for the same meds in the states with no health insurance. Will cross my fingers for you.

John from Daejeon said...

In today's U.S. news about the shortage of vital cancer drugs.

Sickening doesn't even begin to describe this.