Friday, May 10, 2013

Average bill size - by medical procedure

Here are the average bill size in B2 ward by medical procedure.

The finding is quite revealing. The cost of treatment in B2 ward is not as expensive as feared by most people. The quality of treatment must be quite good, judging by the large number of people that are treated.

The fear of high medical bills could be exaggerated by agents trying to sell expensive private Shield plans. The cost of these plans can be quite high, and the patient still has to pay the deductible and co-insurance. 

Compare bills in public and private hospitals

Cost of treatment in private hospital is 2 to 3 times of similar treatment in private hospitals. After factoring in the government subsidy (average of 50%), the difference is 4 to 6 times. 

Elderly people should opt for treatment in subsidized wards. If they go for treatment in private hospitals, the real cost is 4 to 6 times higher. 

Insurance does not reduce the cost. It adds another 50% to the actual cost - to cover marketing, administration and profit. The higher cost is reflected in the premium that has to be paid by everybody.

Many people think that insurance will help to pay their bills. They do not realize that they are paying for it through higher premiums. 

Read this article.

If you can afford the higher premium, then it is all right to buy private insurance. But, if you do not have adequate savings, it is better to keep to Medishield and use subsidized wards, especially for elderly people. 

Think of needs of pedestrians

6 May 2013

Editor, Forum Page
Straits Times

The Police reported that 50 people are killed each year while crossing
the road. 

I suggest that our traffic lights control system should also be designed
with the needs of pedestrians in mind.

I have tried to cross certain stretches of roads, such as Shenton Way or
Orchard Road, and the vehicles seem  to be flowing continuously. 

The traffic lights at the junctions or overhead bridge may be too far away 
for pedestrians to walk to.

It will be useful for the traffic lights to be synchronized to allow 1 minute for
passengers to cross the road. This could mean that all vehicles should be
stopped during this time.

It could be less costly than building overhead bridge or pedestrian tunnels,
and more convenient for passengers.

The only negative impact is that motorists will have to waste one minute, but
they do have to waste the time anyway in congested roads.
Let the needs of pedestrians, especially the elderly, be considered in our
planning of the traffic flow.

Medical insurance for elderly people

I have always advised elderly people, who are not well off, to stick with Medishield, and not be frightened to buy the expensive private shields. Here are my reasons.

In my personal case, I have Medishield, but I really do not need it. I have adequate savings to pay for my medical expense. I will go for B2 or C class wards, when I need to be treated. They are adequate for elderly people.

Avoid upgrading to private Shield when you are old

The daughter wanted to buy a Private Shield for her father, who was already covered under Medishield. Her father is almost 70. Due to health status, the Shield policy carried several exclusions and charged a higher premium.

Here is my reply to her:
It is best for your father to say on Medishield. There is no need to change to the private Shield, especially as they have so many exclusions and you are paying a higher premium. Even if there are no exclusions, there is no need to upgrade.
See this article in my website
Here are additional articles for you to read:
I am waiving my consultancy fee. No need to pay me. You can give me a call at 66599611 to talk to me further.
Tan Kin Lian

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The Malaysian election hold many lessons for Singapore

Electronic voting

I am in favor of electronic voting to replace the current manual voting process.

1. The electronic vote can be encrypted and stored immediately in a secure server and a backup server. It is not possible to change the vote. 
2. All votes have an number that can be identified to a voter, but the actual vote cannot be read. This linkage is to identify the valid votes and ensure that there is only one vote for each voter.
3. The votes can be counted electronically by a software that is held by the Election Commission. An independent party can keep a copy of the software and do an independent count. This is to make sure that the software works reliably and has not been changed.
4. In the counting of the valid votes, there is no way of checking the identity of the voter - as the linkage is removed for the purpose of counting.
5. Can allow voters to vote in overseas locations, so long as their identity is verified.

Risk of Manual Systems
1. Fake ballot papers
2. Switching of ballot boxes enroute to counting center
3. Multiple votes by same voter
4. Counting errors

Risk of Electronic Voting
1. Tampering with the votes - solved by encryption
2. Tampering with the counting software - solved by giving multiple copies of the software to different parties, so they can run their own count and be assured that the software counts properly.

Unnecessary hassle - making life difficult for Singaporeans

I attended a meeting at the Land Transport Authority office in Sin Ming Avenue. The security guard asked me to walk 100 meters to the security post to change my NRIC to a visitor pass and to register my particulars. 

After the meeting, I had to walk back to the security post to retrieve my NRiC and to register my particulars again. To make matters worse, the security guard was not at his post. I had to wait a while for him to return.

What is the purpose of this activity? Is it to stop terrorists from entering a Government building? If so, why was I not checked for explosives in my bag?

Was it to register my contact in case there is another SARS outbreak? If this was the purpose, why was my particulars not checked, e.g. mobile phone number? In case, no one knows, SARS have been over more than 10 years ago.

Was it to know that I was in the building in case there was a fire? There are 100 other places that I visited last month, where the risk of a fire is higher. I was not recorded in all of these places.

The real answer is - Singaporeans just follow instructions and routines blindly. They do not ask - is this really necessary? is this really useful?

Maybe, they enjoy making other people go through the hassle, for nothing. Nothing will change until the minister is made the target of these measures!

Shorter lease flats

Minister of National Development, Khaw Boon Wan, has a difficult task. He wants to bring down the price of new flats to four years of average salary, but he has to placate existing HDB owners who are angry that the prices of their existing HDB flats will be adversely affected. He has announced that his plan is to stop the prices from rising, and to make sure that any fall will be "just a few percent".

It is difficult for the minister to balance the conflicting interest of existing and new flat owners. He can consider two approaches:

a)  Create a new class of "non-open market" flats that have to be sold back to HDB. This was proposed by a political party.

b) Offer a new category of HDB flats with a shorter lease of 60 or 75 years. This flats will be cheaper, due to the shorter lease.

I think that proposal (b) will be better and will not cause too much disruption to the current situation. New buyers, who does not like the shorter lease, have the option to buy the longer lease at the current prices. The cheaper flats, on shorter lease, will be more attractive to those buyers who find the current prices to be too expensive.

Currently, industrial buildings are being sold on 30 and 60 year leases, and are accepted as good investments. In time, shorter lease HDB flats will also be acceptable. Actually, many of the flats with original 99 years have their current lease reduced to 75 years already, after 25 years have passed by.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Monday, May 06, 2013

Make business easier

Sensible approach towards security

We should adopt a sensible approach towards security, terrorism and cyber crime. My emphasis is "sensible". I do not like the blind approach towards security that is adopted in many aspects of our daily life, such as: 

1. Registering visitors to visit commercial buildings
2. Excessive checking of visitors boarding planes, even a watch will cause a beep
3. Many layers of security codes to use online banking, especially for corporate accounts
4. Need for e-mail statements to be encrypted and accessed with a password.

These excessive security measures will have a bad side effect. Being impractical, the security guard and the public will not pay much attention to it. It becomes a blind routine.

The public will avoid the use of the online measures. For example, I refuse to open my encrypted statements - as it is too troublesome. I often have to write cheques rather than go through the painful online process.

To enhance security in our public buildings, malls and train stations, I prefer to see more security guard that moves around and keep an eye on the visitors. Their presence is useful, in addition to the use of close circuit televisions.

Many of the measures were introduced during a period of real danger, for example, shortly after the terrorist attack in 2001. But 10 years have already passed, and there are new security threats to replace the old ones. We need to review the measures after a few years, to see if they are really relevant. 

My views of the Malaysian Election 2013

1.  There was a strong swing among the Chinese to the Democratic Action Party (DAP), member of Pakatan Rakyat (PR). The urban Malays was more neutral while the rural Malays continued to give strong support to the Barisan National (BN).

2. This polarization along racial lines is not good for Malaysia. It is wise for the caretaker Prime Minister, Najib Razak to call for a period of reconciliation. He is moderate and reform minded and will be able to take Malaysia through a period of change.

3. The call by the former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohd at the last minute to the Malays to reject Party Islam (PAS) probably saved BN. He is clearly strategic in his thinking. This probably contributed to the surge in Malay support for the BN, instead of PAS, in the important rural areas in Perak, Kedah and Johore.

4. It is rather sad that Anwar Ibrahim's party, Partai Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), which is multi-racial in its approach, did not fare as well as it should in the rural areas. Several Chinese candidates stood on their platform, perhaps in the urban areas.

5. I am impressed with the performance of Anwar's daughter, Nurrul Izzah. I watched some of the Youtube videos of her speeches. She is truly an inspirational leader with clear ideas of what is good for the future of Malaysia. A commentator said that she is his favorite as a future Prime Minister of Malaysia. I share this view.

6.  I am impressed with the campaign speeches of many candidates. They are able to relate well with the public and to mix Malay, English, Mandarin and dialect in the same speech. It goes will with a multi-racial audience.

7. Malaysians are way ahead of Singaporeans in politics and democracy. We have much to learn from them.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Malaysiakini provide free access for the General Election coverage

On election night, we aim to be the first to report real-time results. With journalists in all the key seats and clued in to the counting process, we will let you know who shall govern Malaysia after May 5. Apart from, we ask readers to and to make sure you get access to Malaysiakini latest news. Mobile users can access the website through Also, you can follow our SMS alerts

Taking the risk of a new Government

The general election in Malaysia is an interesting lesson for Singapore. Are Malaysians willing to take the risk to vote in a new Government?

Listen to the speech of the Nga Kor Ming, DAP candidate for Nibong Tebal and Anwar Ibrahim, leader of Perkatan Rakyat.

They are great speakers, able to mingle will with the multi-racial composition of the Malaysian voters.

Electronic payments

I just learned that the Inland Revenue Authority is taking a new initiative to get vendors to register and operate an account to receive payments from the public sector. The link

I welcome this move. It clearly reflects the unsatisfactory state of affairs in Singapore.

This type of service should be extended to the private sector as well, but the lead has to be taken by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). They cannot just sit back and hope that the banking industry will make it happen.

Concerns of young voters

The number of voters in Malaysia increased from 10.5 to 13.3 million over the past five years. The increase are due to young voters reaching voting age. 

The political parties wanted to reach out to these young voters. What are their concerns?

It should be similar to concerns of young people all over the world. Some of them are:

1. How to get jobs
2. How to pay off study loans
3. How to get a fairer and less corrupt government.
4. How to have a say in their future

Are these the same concerns in Singapore?

A degree is not required for most jobs

Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that it is not necessary to have a university degree. I agree with this statement, as a degree is not required for most jobs. It is only required for some jobs.

Making this statement is a bold step. But it has to be followed by concrete action. 

I like to make this suggestion, so that the minister can use it in his own way, and no need to acknowledge that it comes from me:

1. State the benchmark salary for most jobs and the requirements needed for the jobs.

2. This should apply to salaries in the public service, e.g. teaching, nursing, office work, security, customer service, technical jobs.

3. Employ more people directly in the public service, and avoid outsourcing these jobs.

4. Recruit young people on internship for these jobs, and assure them of a full time job when they complete the internship satisfactorily.

If the public service sets the example, they will form the benchmark for the private sector.

If our young people know that they can get a good income without a degree, many of those who are not academically inclined will be prepared to opt for vocational training. It will save them or their parents from having to incur a large loan to get a university degree that is not needed.

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