Saturday, October 07, 2017

Wiser to stay with Medishield Life

I have encountered several cases of low income people incurring large medical bills for treatment in private hospitals, and their insurance does not pay for the treatment.

Why did these low income people opt to buy expensive insurance (i.e. the integrated plans) to cover treatment in private hospitals?

Often, they were told by the insurance agent that they can upgrade to the integrated plan without paying any cash. Actually, the higher cost comes out of Medisave savings.

They were also told that there is a long waiting time for treatment in a subsidised ward that is covered by Medishield Life. If they upgrade to a private plan, they do not have to wait when they need treatment.

This is how many people opt for the integrated plan and pay a much higher premium.

Why did the integrated plan not cover the expensive treatment?

There are two types of situations.

First, when they upgrade to the integrated plan, they might have not declared any pre-existing illness. The consumers were not aware of this requirement. The insurance agent was in a hurry to close the case and did not ask the question clearly.

In some cases, the agent said that the medical condition was not important to be declared. It becomes a different story when it comes to a claim. The claim officer rejected the claim due to non-disclosure.

Second, the cover for the integrated plan might have lapsed due to oversight in paying the top up premium. There is a cap on the annual withdrawal from Medisave. The consumer has to pay the difference for the integrated plan.

Many consumers overlook to pay the top up premium. The cover for the integrated plan lapsed. If they apply to reinstate the policy, they would be subject to exclusion of pre-existing conditions.

I have come across a few cases of rejection of claims for expensive treatment in private hospital from low income people. the bills came to several tens of thousand dollars.

For low income people, it is wiser for them to stay with Medishield Life. They should not worry about the waiting time for treatment in subsidised wards. The hospital will give immediate treatment for medical emergencies. The long waiting time applies only to non-critical cases.

Tan Kin Lian

Being insured can be worse than not being insured

Many people are worried about incurring a large medical bill when they fall sick. They buy insurance to be protected against the large bill.

To avoid the long waiting time, they buy insurance to be covered for treatment in a private hospital and pay a much higher premium.

They may not realize that being insured for medical expenses in a private hospital can be worse than not being insured. How can this be so? What is the paradox.

Here is the answer.

Learning about investing

This investment gave me a total return of 80% over 10 years. It represented a yield of 6.2%.

If I had invested a similar sum in a single premium life insurance policy, the total return would likely be only 40% giving a yield of less than 3%.

What is the learning point? Read this article.

Fingerprint scanning at checkpoints

Should car drivers and passengers have finger prints scanned at the checkpoints?

The views are quite divided, based on the votes in The Wisdom of the Crowd.

See the breakdown of the votes in

What will happen to Amos Yee

What will happen to Amos Yee over the next two years?

The views are quite divided based on the votes in The Wisdom of the Crowd. 
See the breakdown of the votes in 

Small countries should band together

Was it wise for PM Lee to make the statement that small countries should band together?

Give your vote in

Return trays at food courts

Should customers return tray at food courts to reduce the need for cleaners?
Give your vote in

Friday, October 06, 2017

Did not monitor my investment for ten years

Ten years ago (or thereabouts), I invested $50,000 in a unit trust with Fundsupermart in the name of my wife.

I had trouble logging in to their website as I forgot the password. They send statement to me encripted with their PDF password. I was not able to open the statement.

I tried to change the password but they send the new password to me by snail mail, which would arrive in "a few working days". It was too troublesome for me to look out for that mail. So, I never kept track of that investment for 10 years.

I had an online chat with the staff of Fundsupermart and complained about their troublesome procedure. She told me that the statement was encripted with the NRIC of the account holder. I was able to open it for the first time in 10 years.

To my surprise, the investment of $50,000 had grown to $92,000 in 10 years, giving a yield of 6.2% per annum.

It was not as good as STI ETF, which probably yield 9% p.a. (or thereabout) during the same period. But it was a satisfactory yield.

I would be withdrawing my investment and closing my account.

Tan Kin Lian

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Mis-selling of life insurance policy

This case occured many years ago. A Chinese educated lady approached me for help. An insurance agent had advised her to invest $50,000 in a life insurance policy, as it gives a better return compared to CPF.

Later, she was told that the policy had lapsed, as she did not pay the second year premium of $50,000. All the money invested earlier was lost.

She was not aware that she had bought an annual premium policy with an annual premium of $50,000.

She complained about the mis-selling to the insurance company but they rejected her complaint.

I helped her to write the letter of demand for the money to be refunded to her, as it was a clear case of mis-selling. A few months later, she told me that she got the full refund.

I asked her to make a donation to FISCA. She asked - how much? I said it was up to her - $200, $500 or $1,000.

Guess how much did she donate to FISCA?

You can find the answer here:

Do your part of the work

Someone approached me for help. He bought an integrated Shield plan and went for an expensive operation in a private hospital costing $60,000.

He had checked with the insurance agent and was assured that the operation would be fully covered. He had the integrated plan and the rider that covers the co-payment.

After discharge, he submitted the hospital bill for reimbusrement. The bill was rejected on the grounds that the policy had lapsed and when he reinstated the policy, he did not declare that he had approached the polyclinic for some medical checkup.

The case was quite complicated. There were many letters and documents for me to read.

I agreed to help the claimant as his sister diligently organized all the documents for me to review. She also helped me to draft the appeal letter.

Without the sister's help, I would have to spend many hours to understand the issues and to draft the letter of appeal.

I have turned down other requests for help because the the person asking for help was too lazy to do his part of the work. He gave confusing and inadequate information to me, and would have required me to spend many hours of my time.

If they had approached a lawyer, they would have to pay more than $1,000 in legal fees, as lawyers charged $300 for each hour, or maybe more.

Here is the lesson. If you expect someone to help you, you must do your part of the work to organise the information so that the person who is helping you do not have to spend too much time. You have to respect his time.

Two serious diseases affecting Singapore

At last, Singapore had introduced a mobile app for car park payments.

While we should all welcome this development, we must also realize that it shows clearly a serious disease that has inflicted Singapore for decades.

What is this disease?

Have you wondered why it took so long for this mobile app to appear? It has been actively used in other cities under more difficult situations.

We had a HDB/URA parking coupons system for a few decades. It would have been logical, and simple, for HDB/URA to change to a mobile app a few years ago.

Well, nothing moves in Singapore until the prime minister says so. And when the prime minister makes an announcement, things can move very quickly. In just a few months.

Is this not a serious disease? Are we going to do nothing until the prime minister says so? Is there no room for innovation and creativity? Are our administrators unable to see how to introduce change to make life better for every one?

Some cynics wil say that they do not want to make the change, because HDB/URA are benefiting from the large cash float when motorists pay for the coupons in advance. Furthermore, the earn the cash whent he coupons are lost or are not used.

This is another serious disease. Are our public bodies so focused on making money, even if it is done at the expense of the public and at high cost to the nation? You can imagine the unnecessary work, and the related expenses that has to be done in selling the coupons, accounting for the cash payments, and in cleaning up the tabs from the coupons.

If I am not wrong, the public administrators have KPIs that determine their performance and perhaps their bonuses. If they increase the revenue and profits for their agencies, they show a better KPI. If they introduce cost to the country and trouble for the public, it is not reflected negatively in their KPI.

For this reason, I have been strongly against the use of KPI to measure performance and bonuses for the public sector. I think it is a very bad idea.

I hope that our prime minister realises the two serious diseases that have hampered Singapore for the past few decades. I believe that he is intelligent enough to know what I am saying.

Tan Kin Lian

Win these prizes

Here are a few useful books. You can buy them for a few dollars at the online shop. However, you can save your money and earn these books as prizes when you vote in The Wisdom of The Crowd.

Click the link in the page to submit your votes on the current issues.

FAS Council

Is the technical director Sablon justified his comment about lack of support from the FAS council?

80% of the people voting in The Wisdom of The Crowd said that the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) should be more open minded about Sablon's comments and should realize that there are underlying problems that need to be solved.

View the detailed votes in

Small traders peddle their wares

Should small traders be allowed to peddle their ware to make a living?

77% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd said that they should be given a licence for a small fee and be allowed to make a living. The remaining 23% disagree for two reasons.

When I was in Seoul, I saw many elderly and poor people make a living in this way.

You can view the details of the votes in

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Are the T&C fair to consumers?

I received this email from Grab with the title "We are upgrading our terms and conditions to serve your better".

I clicked on the link provided, as follows:

I read a lot of details, but do not know how I am being served better. I also do not know if there are any "dangerous" terms and conditions that are disadvantageous to the consumer.

I don't think other consumers are able to read the detailed "T&C".

I prefer a system where any busiess that provide a service for the general public should send its "T&C" to a government regulator which will check that the "T&C" are fair to the consumers.

Why force 100,000 consumers to read the "T&C" when the regulator can carry out this function?

Of course, I know that this practice is not peculiar to Grab. It is being practised by other businesses. The approach that I suggested should apply to all businesses that offer a service that is used by many members of the public.

Who is the first Elected President of Singapore?

What exactly did the previous Attorney General, V K Rajah advised the government concerning the counting of the Elected President?

This has always been a mystery. The government refused to disclose the details of his advice.

It has led to a challenge by Dr. Tan Cheng Bock and an appeal. MP Sylvia Lim has made several attempts to raise this question in Parliament.

Here is an account of the recent debate.

I will now offer my speculation on the advice given by V K Rajah.

He must have advised the government that, based on the constition, the counting should start from President Ong Teng Cheong and that the only way for the government to overcome it is to take a policy decision to name President Wee Kim Wee when passing the Act of Parliament on the reserved presidential election.

This advice must be embarrasing to the government. So, the government refused to disclose the detail of the advice.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Learn through videos

These videos on financnail planning and insurance have been viewed over 10,000 times. They contain usefult tips that can be understood by ordinary people. They are specially useful for young people.

Revocable living trust

If you have a lot of assets and are worried about the trouble faced by your beneficiaries in getting probate of your will or in handling your assets, you can consider setting up a revocable living trust.

The advantage is that you are able to sort out the financial matters during your lifetime and they will continue after your demise with a successor trustee taking over the management of your trust.

My friend has created a living trust and explained the benefits to me.  I am now considering creating a revocable living trust.

You can find out more details of this legal arrangement here.

Potential by-election in Marsiling Yew Tee

How should the opposition parties handle the potential by-election in Marsiling Yew Tee?

About 52% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd said that they should get together and field a team comprising of leaders of the opposition parties. The other 48% had other views.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Will Tharman make major changes?

Will Tharman Shanmugratnam make major changes in PAP policy if he becomes the prime minister?

The views of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd is quite mixed. About 35% thinks that he will make major changes and the 65% said that he will not.

View the breakdown in the votes in

Monday, October 02, 2017

Grab fares are too high

I finished my meeting at Thomson View at 10 pm and wanted to call a Grab home. They advertised that I get a $4 discount for the whole month of October.

The Grabshare ride gave a fare of $15 and a statement that the promotion does not apply. Read the T&C. This is a shared ride which usually take 10 mins to arrive.

The Grabcar ride cost $20. I am not sure if the promotion applies. There was a statement that the fare is high due to demand.

Is this true? It is 10 pm on a Monday night. It is too early for the late night patrons to go home. It is not raining. Grab drivers do not need to change shift.

The normal taxi fare is $11 to $14. So the Grab fare,net of promotion, is still higher than normal taxi.

Perhaps, the investors are tired about the large sums incurred by Grab on the promotions and are asking for profit. If so, Grab is now charging higher prices to recoup some of the losses. This strategy will not work. Passengers will go for normal taxi.

In my case, I walked to the bus stop and take my regular 163. The fare is $0.75. The ride is comfortable, air con, and I have a seat all the way.

Sorry, Grab. Your business strategy will not work.


I refer to Han Fook Kwang’s article “The politics of dominance: Don’t take it to the limit” (Sunday Times, Oct 1). It states that “An overly dominant ruling party faces dangers such as resistance to change and complacency”. As I read the above excellent commentary by my Raffles Institution classmate who was the former editor of the Straits Times – my thoughts drifted to another article “Singapore Inc destroying value?” (Straits Times, Jul 18, 2016), which I read about a year ago.

I agree with the remarks “An overly dominant ruling party faces dangers such as resistance to change and complacency”. In this connection, our nation’s greatest asset – our people – may be in the process of being destroyed – by the Government’s “resistance to change and complacency”. The widespread feeling of Singaporeans that their value in their own country is being diminished is perhaps manifested in the record numbers of Singaporeans living abroad.

An estimated one in 10 Singaporeans are already living overseas and practically every survey has found that the majority of Singaporeans are open to or want to live overseas. Many Singaporeans are also ashamed whenever their friends from overseas ask why so many of the people who come to clean your tables, etc are so elderly and frail. And when they find out that their median basic salary is only $1,000 a month – it is even more embarrassing.

Another example of destroying the people’s value may be that it is estimated that hardly any of the local jobs growth in the last two and a half years, may have gone to true-blue Singaporeans, after factoring in the number of new PRs and new citizens granted in the same period. Also, last year’s new PRs and new citizens granted were both at, at least 10-year highs.

Leong Sze Hian

Full time National Service

What changes do you like to see with full time National Service? Give your views in

Withdraw licence from Uber?

Should Singapore follow London to withdraw the licence for Uber to operate a taxi service?

67% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd said "no". The remaining 33% said "yes".

Read the details and their reasons in

Charge for plastic bags

Should supermarkets plan charge for plastic bags?

50% of the people voting in the Wisdom of the Crowd said "no". The other 50% said "yes".

Find out the details and reasons for their votes in

Bus sequential stop number

Should all buses display the sequential stop number?
Give your vote in

Uber and Grab drivers

Should drivers of Uber and Grab met a minimum age or driving experience requirement?

Give your vote in

Shared bikes need docking stations


The Government should provide docking stations for shared bicycles as part of public infrastructure. They should be located next to bus stops, MRT stations and shopping centres (“Civic-mindedness key to ensuring success of bike sharing”; July 31, online).

Users should be required by regulation to leave shared bikes at the docking stations. This would allow the bikes to be docked in an orderly manner and help other users to locate them.

It would help to promote bike sharing and encourage users to make exercise a lifestyle habit.

Show bus stop number sequence


Some, but not many, buses have a screen showing the name of the next bus stop.

It may take some years to replace the old buses, and I suggest that the number sequence of bus stops also appear on the display, which should be placed at the front and back of both new and existing buses.

The first bus stop after the interchange would be numbered 1, the next would be 2, and so on.

A passenger could check a guide, available on the bus or online, for the number of the stop at which to alight.

For example, if his destination is stop 12, and the panel is showing stop 9, he knows there are three stops to go. If the number shown above is 12, the passenger knows that he has passed his destination.

The advantage is that passengers who are not familiar with English or are tourists can understand a numerical display, which can complement the naming of the next bus stop.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

A national culture - only one way

Chin Hua Yak said

I am currently in China for about a month. Payment via phone is very common in China but that does not ruled out cash payments.

The problem with S'pore is it wants to accept "only either this / or that" solutions ... lol. So it ended up being very slow.

Not only that, u need a handphone number tagged on for many transactions in the Banks...for verification codes. And now their banks are moving on to "face recognition" for verification of transactions.

The "either this or than" mindset is prevailent in Singapore. It is our national culture.

If I suggest mobile phone payment, many people will argue that the edlerly people have no mobile phone or cannot use it. These people cannot see that 50% can pay by mobile phone and the other 50% will pay by cash. As time goes by, more people will pay by mobile phone and it may eventually reach 90%.

Impact of national service on people struggling to make a living

I met my former school mates over lunch on Saturday. We talked about national service.

One of them recalled an incident when he was in charge of a few NS men. One of them did not turn up for training one evening. He had to submit a charge against the AWOL NS man.

The NS man told him, "Sir, this is durian season. I have to sell durians to bring income for my mother. You can see me at Rangoon Road. Even president Nathan buys durian at my stall. I can make up at other times in the morning, but allow me to sell the durians at night".

My friend worked out some arrangement with him and did not report his absence during the reporting hours.

The defaulting NS man was fortunate to have a superior who was willing to stick his neck out to help him. Not many people would take this risk.

One other school mate, who was a former senior civil servant had argued earlier that national service discipline was necessary. When he heard this story, he reflected on it. He said that he understood the hardship of the ordinary people, but the younger colleagues in the ministry were not so aware about the realities of life.

Will the military cooperation between Singapore and China cause problems with our neighbors?

Will the military cooperation between Singapore and China cause problems with our neighbors?

66% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd said that it will not cause problems. 34% said that it will.

Look at the reasons here

Do you expect President Halimah to make a major impact during her presidency

91% of the people voting in the Wisdom of the Crowd does not expect her to make any impact. 9% expect here to make some implact.

Look at the reasons in

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