Monday, December 12, 2011

Maybank is offering promotional interest rate up to 1.35% p.a. iSavvy Time Deposits!

Maybank is offering promotional interest rate up to 1.35% p.a. for new placements of S$25,000 to S$1,000,000 to iSavvy Time Deposits. First customers with minimum S$200,000 placement will receive passes to Universal Studio Singapore.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Is your Car PI? (Parallel Import) Check your IU registration with LTA

Dear friends, note for people going to buy PI car. Do get a proof that your IU has been register with LTA. A friend of mine was fined for not having an IU in his car which he have been driving for 2.5 yrs with an IU. He went to Vicom for inspection and they say his IU is nt registered under his car license plate and have to change a new one with IMMEDIATE effect.
The technician say that recently a lot of PI car have this problem, as ERP system has just been upgraded so they are about to detect now. Anyway the change of IU cost around $160.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Brakes slammed on more "pimped up" cars

Is your car modified? Did you declare them when you applied insurance? Did you modified after you purchased? Your car might not be covered at all.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New therapies for heart valve disease

20 September 2011

TODAY (Singapore)
( c) 2011. MediaCorp Press Ltd.

Learn about advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of heart valve disease. Advanced imaging
capability and techniques like 3D echocardiography and percutaneous heart valve replacement allow
patients to be diagnosed more quickly and accurately.

Date: Friday
Time: 1pm to 2pm
Venue: Health Education Hub, 5 Lower Kent Ridge Road, Main Building 1, Level 1, Lobby B, National University Hospital
Fee/Registration: Free. Registration required. Call 6772 2184.

More than 51,000 employers to get S$17 million in SEC


20 September 2011
TODAY (Singapore)
(c) 2011. MediaCorp Press Ltd.

SINGAPORE — The first payment under the Special Employment Credit (SEC) announced in this year’s
Budget will be given out by the end of this month.

The Ministry of Manpower says that more than 51,000 employers qualify.

They will receive a total of S$17 million for employing 167,000 older, low-wage Singaporeans in the first half of this year.

The SEC was announced in February as a one-off Budget measure to encourage employers who employ Singaporeans aged 55 and above and earn up to S$1,700 a month.

Eligible employers will receive notifications from the CPF Board this week.

The SEC will be paid twice a year in March and September between January this year and December 2013.

It is expected to cost the Government S$100 million over the three years.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Dispute resolution for motor accident claims of up to $3,000. Accident claims of up to $3k? Go to resolution centre

2 September 2011
Business Times Singapore
(c) 2011 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

TO ADDRESS the issue of escalating claims, non-injury motor accident claims of $3,000 or less now
have to be heard first by the Financial Industry Disputes Resolution Centre (FIDReC) before court
proceedings can start.

This has been raised from the $1,000 limit previously.

The move is in line with recommendations put forward by the Motor Insurance Taskforce last year.

According to a release issued yesterday by the Consumers Association of Singapore, the industry
average amount for third party property damage claims is about $4,000. As such, the move to bump up
the limit to $3,000 is expected to reduce the number of disputes brought to court. FIDReC has also
beefed up its resources so that it will be able to handle the likely increase in the number of cases.

'GIA welcomes the increased FIDReC-NIMA limit which will further enhance the promotion of amicable
and faster settlement of disputes through the mediation process,' said Derek Teo, president of the
General Insurance Association of Singapore.

Accident claims of up to $3k? Go to resolution centre

Christopher Tan, Senior Correspondent
2 September 2011
Straits Times
(c) 2011 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

Limit for non-injury cases raised from $1,000
MOTORISTS who want to make non-injury accident claims of up to $3,000 will now have to go before
the Financial Industry Disputes Resolution Centre (Fidrec) before they can file them in court.

The $3,000 limit is three times the previous cap of $1,000.

The Consumers Association of Singapore, a member of the Motor Insurance Taskforce which lobbied
for the limit to be raised, said the new ceiling is more reflective of the average claim of $4,000.

The taskforce, which views Fidrec as yet another way to tackle spiralling costs, hopes the new limit will
pave the way for more claims to be settled quickly and cheaply - without the appointment of lawyers.

Since its formation in March 2008, Fidrec has heard 218 motor accident cases and helped resolve 213
of them - even if the number is a fraction of the approximately 1,200 non-injury accident claims that go to
court each year.

The taskforce reckons the $3,000 limit will allow Fidrec to handle more cases.

But lawyers point out that claimants may simply jack up their claims to exceed the new limit to avoid the

Fidrec process - one which requires claimants to turn up personally to file and present their cases.

General Insurance Association (GIA) president Derek Teo, a Fidrec proponent, said: 'There'll be people
who will bump up their claims to circumvent this... but they will have to produce substantive evidence in
court to show that their claims are justified.'

He added that the 'main intent is for all parties to reach an amicable settlement by themselves'.

However, should they need the help of a third party to resolve a case, there is Fidrec.

But motorists can still file their claims in court if they are not happy with Fidrec's decision, which is
handed down by retired judges.

The Motor Insurance Taskforce, whose members include the GIA, the Automobile Association of
Singapore, the Land Transport Authority, the Traffic Police and the Monetary Authority of Singapore,
had actually recommended the Fidrec cap be set at $10,000.

Observers said, however, this would be detrimental to the income of many lawyers.

A lawyer who specialises in accident claims said yesterday his business had already dipped since
Fidrec was formed. But he could not substantiate his claim, nor did he want to be named.

The taskforce has introduced several measures in recent years to tackle rising costs. These include
requiring motorists to file an accident report with their insurers - no matter how minor the accident - within 24 hours, and submit on-site photos of the vehicles involved.

Also, motorists who file insurance claims against another party after an accident have to contact the
other driver's insurer before getting their vehicle repaired. The other driver's insurer will have 48 hours to
inspect the damaged vehicle. If it fails to do so, it automatically waives its right to contest the claim.

The measures have met some success.

Last year, motor claims amounted to $767 million. If the $11.6 million attributed to flood damage was excluded, the sum would have been close to the $742 million posted three years ago - even though there
are now more vehicles on the road.

Things to consider when getting an insurance plan

Should you be considering an Integrated Shield plan, here are some questions to ask the insurer or the adviser:

* What are the categories of benefits and types of cover under the Integrated Shield plan? Will it cover
claims incurred outside Singapore?

* What does the plan exclude?

* Can I buy a rider to cover the deductible and co-insurance?

* How much is the premium for the plan and the rider? How much of the premium can be paid out from
Medisave, and how much must be paid from cash?

* Might the premium be increased? Will my premium be affected if I make a claim?

* Is the plan guaranteed renewable and what is the penalty for late premium payment?

* Does the insurer provide a letter of guarantee to the hospital when I'm hospitalised?

* How do I make a claim?

If you need help in upgrading your MediShield plan, please drop me an SMS/Call me @ 91000078.

Prevention is better

95% of countries, the medical trend or cost rate exceeded that of inflation. Singapore's medical cost rate is estimated at 8.4% this year, compared with 7.4% last year.

One very important way to cover the cost of health care is through insurance. Risk pooling enables insurers to offer cover to a fairly large group, at premiums that are relatively affordable.

It is prudent to take up such insurance while you are relatively young and healthy. Once illnesses develop, insurers may levy an extra charge, or even refuse coverage for what they call pre-existing conditions.

3 ways you can enjoy heavy subsidies

  1. Acute public hospital wards
  2. MediSave which earn 4% more then OA in your CPF
  3. MediShield and private Integrated Shield plans.
MediSave- Limited amount on inpatient and outpatient expenses. Important to note that Medisave is still cash. It should be prudently used. While you are working, the contribution rate to Medisave will vary depending on your age. The contribution rate is also adjusted annually to keep pace with inflation.

Should you retire or cease working and your contributions stop, cash in Medisave could run out fairly quickly given high health care costs.

Priviate Integrated Shield - Hospital and surgical (H&S) plans are one of the most basic of health covers, and are a must for most people unless you have enough wealth to self-pay. It is also important to take up H&S plans for your children.

Many people put off taking up a H&S plan because their employers may offer very good and comprehensive cover. But you will need a private plan should you stop working. Waiting until retirement to take up one is untenable because at a later age you may develop conditions that make you uninsurable.

Why I keep emphasising on Private Integrated Shield? It the most afforadable plan that you can get using your CPF medisave account.

If you need help in upgrading your MediShield plan, please drop me an SMS/Call me @ 91000078.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

New prescription guidelines for hypertension

25 August 2011
TODAY (Singapore)
(c) 2011. MediaCorp Press Ltd.
Taking repeated blood pressure readings over a 24-hour period rather than a one-off measurement in

the clinic is the most cost-effective way of deciding who should be prescribed drugs for hypertension,
according to a study published in The Lancet medical journal yesterday.

The findings in favour of so-called ambulatory blood pressure monitoring were immediately adopted by
Britain’s health costs watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

Professor Bryan Williams of Leicester University said the change “is likely to be replicated across the

Ambulatory blood pressure measurement involves the patient wearing a blood pressure cuff attached to
an automatic blood pressure machine for 24 hours. Measurements are taken typically half hourly during
the day and hourly during the night.

An estimated one billion people around the world have high blood pressure. REUTERS

Cover Story - Cancer from breast

More and More woman are opting for breast reconstruction with their mastectomies so they can still look and feel normal.

Do you know you are covered by hospitalisation insurance?
There is also a misconception that breast reconstruction is considered cosmetic surgery and will not be
covered by hospitalisation insurance or Medisave.

Depending on a patient's eligibility for subsidy, the estimated bill for a mastectomy followed by an
immediate breast reconstruction ranges between $6,000 and $30,000.

Breast cancer patients who undergo this procedure may use up to $7,550 from Medisave for it and
$450 per day for daily hospitalisation charges.

Younger women affected by cancer seek complete restoration of form for better integration back to
society, family, work and married life.

Have you upgraded your MediShield to "As Charged" plan yet?

As-charged feature

The as-charged feature has become a standard in all Medisave-approved integrated Shield plans but there are many people who have not upgraded to plans that offer this feature. Do take note that a Shield plan comes with deductible and co-insurance components. The former refers to the first layer of charges that the policyholder has to bear. These may range from $1,500 to $3,000.

The co-insurance payment is the portion shared by the policyholder, usually 10 per cent of the bill after taking into account the deductible. If you wish to be covered for the deductible and/or the co-insurance portions of the hospitalisation bill, Shield insurers offer optional riders for them, payable via cash.

If you need help in upgrading your MediShield plan, please drop me an SMS/Call me @ 91000078.

S'pore banks safest in Asia

S'pore banks safest in Asia!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

No cover when you need it most - Have you upgraded yours?

ST Forum
No cover when you need it most
22 August 2011
Straits Times
(c) 2011 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

LIKE Mr Leong Quee Hian ("MediShield burden"; last Wednesday), my dad had signed up for MediShield cover when it was launched years ago. The cover expired in April when my dad reached the age limit of 85.

My dad was diagnosed with advance prostate cancer late last year and is currently receiving treatment.
While his treatment is MediShield claimable, he is unable to claim due to his age.

It is an anomaly that after paying the required premiums until 84, the insurance suddenly ceases coverage upon one reaching the age of 85, when one would need it most. We pay for MediShield to cover ourselves should we fall sick. The possibility of one falling ill after 85 is higher but ironically, the cover lapses.

In 2008, Madam Halimah Yacob (then head of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health)
mentioned that medical insurance needed to be extended to cover people beyond the age of 85
("MediShield cover for those over 85?"; Jan 18, 2008). The issue seems to have been sidelined and to
date, MediShield still ceases to cover beyond age 85.

In an e-mail reply to me in September last year, the Ministry of Health explained that the age limit of the
scheme had been regularly reviewed and increased in line with the life expectancy of Singaporeans, the
last review being in 2006, when it was raised from age 80 to 85.

It has been a few years since Madam Halimah's comments and I was hoping that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally speech would address the issue, but it did not.

Potentially huge medical bills not only pose a financial burden to elderly patients, but also an emotional burden to some. Elderly patients above 85 years will definitely be under greater stress knowing that every cent (if any) they had painstakingly saved over the years may be insufficient to meet hefty hospital bills without the MediShield cover.

Some may also feel guilty of being a financial burden to their children (especially if their children have retired), who may have their own family's needs to take care of. I hope the relevant authorities will review and raise the age limit as soon as possible.

Sharon Peh (Ms)
P.S Have you upgraded yours?

Monday, August 8, 2011

What turns off Gen X and Gen Y on life insurance

Lynn Kan

2 August 2011
Business Times Singapore
(c) 2011 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

THREE in four of Singapore's Gen X and Gen Y are happy to pay at or above market price for a life insurance plan.

Yet only 19 per cent would actually consider taking out life insurance in the next 12 months, according
to Swiss Re's survey of 1,000 Singaporeans aged 20 to 40 years.

The gap between perceived costliness and actual price is probably why Singaporeans in this age
bracket are put off buying life insurance, says Sharon Ooi, Swiss Re's director of client markets in
South East Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Swiss Re asked respondents to come up with a value of how much life insurance should be worth.

'Their value of insurance is actually within the correct range, but they don't know that,' said Ms Ooi. 'If
you narrow the gap in perception, you would get more people buying the products.'

The most common reasons for scrimping on life insurance are not having enough spare money set
aside for it or the perceived costliness of the product.

Swiss Re conducted a region-wide survey of 13,800 respondents across 11 Asia-Pacific countries, after
a similar survey in 2009 with seven countries in the data pool.

Across the board, Asia- Pacific countries' risk appetites have shrunk since 2009.

That is to be expected given what has happened since then. 'We've seen more natural disasters like
what has happened in New Zealand and Japan. There is more understanding about the exposures
people face,' said Ms Ooi. 'There is also the continued financial crisis in Europe and the US, so that
would add to the fact that they would want to take less risk overall.'

Overall, Singapore has the highest insurance ownership rate at 96 per cent.

Still, fewer than half of the respondents believed what they had taken out would be a good enough
buffer to cover their medical or health expenses.

'There is a legitimate understanding that there is a rising medical cost issue because they've seen it
happen in other countries. They need to see what they need to do to plan for it,' said Ms Ooi.

HEFTY HOSPITAL BILLS; Don't ban ward switch entirely

ST Forum
2 August 2011
Straits Times
(c) 2011 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

ONE reason patients are saddled with hefty hospital bills is that they have to choose an A-class ward
instead of the subsidised B-class ward when beds in the latter are unavailable.

Consequently, they are barred from switching to B-class beds, and are saddled with hefty A-class

I can understand the Government's reason for barring the switch when there is a choice. But in cases
where the hospital is out of B-class beds, such patients should be allowed to switch back when one
becomes available.

Alternatively, such 'A-class' patients should be allowed access to subsidised care for follow-up

The hospital's standard reply has always been that the patient could wait till a B-class bed becomes
available, or have an ambulance take him to another hospital with an available bed.

However, when one's loved one is ill and in pain, the hospital's reply represents a Hobson's choice.

Families will opt naturally for the practical and immediate solution, which is to stump out for an A-class
bed to ease the suffering of their loved ones.

We are almost held to ransom by the hospital to pay the higher fees. I would gladly pay for an A-class
bed for my loved one who falls ill when no B-class bed is available. But I urge the Health Ministry to
consider allowing these patients to downgrade when a B-class bed becomes available.

As for myself, I recently upgraded my MediShield to cover private hospital fees. This is expensive but I
will not burden my family with having to make such hard choices.

Ho Suit Keng (Ms)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tighter safeguards for investors from Jan 1 2012

Tighter safeguards for investors from Jan 1

Lorna Tan, Senior Correspondent
29 July 2011
Straits Times
(c) 2011 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

'Knowledge test' for investors before they can buy certain products

SINGAPORE'S central bank has unveiled new measures aimed at ensuring that financially
inexperienced investors do not buy complex investment products without knowing what they are getting

From next Jan 1, all banks and other outlets will have to assess the financial knowledge and investment
experience of everyone keen to buy such products.

Those who pass the checks will be allowed to buy. But those who are not approved and still wish to buy
must be given advice by the banks on whether the product is suitable.

The products include exchange traded funds, investment-linked insurance policies, structured notes,
warrants, options and futures.

And the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has set the bar fairly high before someone can invest in
these products. For example, customers will be approved if they have a business diploma, or have
bought certain products at least six times in the past three years, or have a minimum of three years of
working experience related to investment products.

The safeguards come in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, when 9,900 investors here suffered huge
losses totalling $520 million after the implosion of Lehman Minibonds they had thought were low-risk.

Some people were mis-sold products by banks which had wrongly classified the products as being lowrisk
while others were pushed products without proper advice and complete information. Some providers
did not even gather any financial information from clients before selling.

Under the new measures, financial institutions have to conduct a 'customer knowledge assessment' with
their clients before selling certain products.

In the case of a trading account such as for buying exchange traded funds, a 'customer account review'
will be needed.

Welcoming the moves, Consumers Association of Singapore executive director Seah Seng Choon said
the assessment measures would help investors understand the risks and implications of such
investments and minimise mis-selling.

But he felt that even those who have cleared the assessment should exercise caution.

Retail investor Susan Foo, 48, a retiree, who lost $50,000 from her investment in Lehman Minibonds,
said she might have avoided that fate if the new measures had been in existence earlier.

Under the new regulations, the seller should tell the customer if he is assessed as not having the
relevant knowledge or experience.

If the customer is not approved, banks may suggest that he undergoes learning modules to learn more
about these products. And in some cases, a lower trading limit would have to be set.

As the assessment results are not transferable, investors will be assessed repeatedly if they go
shopping at different banks. The results are valid for either one or three years subject to certain

Banks contacted yesterday said they would have no problem meeting the new rules from MAS.

'Since early 2009, we have adopted an even more stringent sales process by incorporating certain
knowledge assessment criteria into our financial needs analysis, and requiring a full financial needs
analysis of our customers for every investment product sold,' said Mr Lim Wyson, OCBC's head of
global wealth management.

DBS Bank said it would not sell a product even if the customer insists if the product is deemed
unsuitable and he has no clear capability of understanding it.

Standard Chartered Bank said it takes account of factors such as a customer's personal background,
risk tolerance, investment horizon and funds, to come to an agreed risk rating.

However, for some businesses, the new rules might prove too costly and a hassle to implement
because they may have to get more staff and spend more time with each customer.

Mr Wong Sui Jau, general manager of online unit trust distributor Fundsupermart, believes the new
measures will weed out weaker rivals. His company has had to modify its IT systems and hire
investment specialists to deal with customers.

Products not covered

THE new rules apply to 'specified investment products' which are any investment products other than
those listed below. Products that are listed only on a stock exchange outside Singapore are also not
subject to the rules.

* Shares
* Depository receipts representing shares
* Rights issues
* Company warrants
* Units in business trusts
* Units in real estate investment trusts
* Certain debentures
* Life insurance policies (other than investment-linked insurance policies)
* Foreign exchange contracts

More S'porean women getting ovarian cancer

More S'porean women getting ovarian cancer
26 July 2011
Straits Times
(c) 2011 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

Reduced child-bearing a main cause for rise in illness' occurrence

WITH women putting off pregnancy and having fewer or no children at all nowadays, ovarian cancer has
become more common.

For every 100,000 women here, 15.5 will come down with this disease, a rate more than twice that of 40
years ago.

This trend is not unique to Singapore; it is also being seen in developing and newly developed countries
where women have begun putting off having children in order to build their careers.

Associate Professor Tay Eng Hseon, the medical director of Thomson Women Cancer Centre,
described the trend as 'alarming', coming as it does among a trio of women's cancers on the rise, in
tandem with reduced child-bearing.

The three cancers are ovarian cancer, breast cancer and uterine or womb cancer.

Of the three, ovarian cancer - the fifth most common cancer among women here - is of the greatest concern, he said, because no effective screening process exists for it.

It has no symptoms, and unlike uterine cancer, ovarian cancer is usually diagnosed only in the
advanced stages, he added.

Seven in 10 women are diagnosed only after the cancer has spread; by this time, it is very difficult to
treat it successfully.

The cancer is triggered by the rapid growth and division of cells within one or both ovaries, the
reproductive glands that produce eggs and female sex hormones.

Under normal circumstances, the ovaries contain cells that reproduce to maintain tissue health, but
when these cells divide too quickly, a tumour results.

It is not known what causes ovarian cancer, but family history is an important factor when estimating a
woman's risk of ovarian cancer.

Another factor is reduced child-bearing. Prof Tay said women who have delivered two or more children
and those who have used birth-control pills to suppress ovulation for five years or more can halve their
risk of this cancer.

Associate Professor Marcela del Carmen of the Massachusetts General Hospital in the United States
said that even those who have had this cancer before face a 75 per cent recurrence rate within two

Specialists were attending a meeting here over the weekend to evaluate findings from Calypso, the
largest clinical trial done on recurrent ovarian cancer.

The trial, involving nearly 1,000 women, was carried out in several countries to test the effectiveness
and safety of the combination of new drugs, compared with the standard treatment for relapsed ovarian


Before you take up an ILP

Banks should not act like insurance agents

ST Forum

Banks should not act like insurance agents
25 July 2011
Straits Times
(c) 2011 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

RECENTLY, my husband and I were looking to buy some insurance policies. As we had previous bad
experiences buying through insurance agents who were keen on pushing only their own companies'
products, we thought of buying through banks instead.

Since most banks are now positioning themselves as one-stop centres offering a suite of financial
products, we thought they would be independent. We were wrong.

We visited DBS Bank and it was aggressively pushing only Aviva's products. We tried OCBC Bank and
it was pushing Great Eastern's products. We tried United Overseas Bank and Standard Chartered Bank
as well and came out ruffled as their insurance consultants were pushing Prudential's products. In
other words, we had no choice.

The bank staff told us that the insurance companies they were representing were the best and their
products offered the best value. But how would we know if this is true if we cannot make any direct
comparisons and decide for ourselves?

Are banks independent if each pushes only one insurance company's products? Or have they become
agents of the insurance companies? Are banks driven by customers' needs and interests or by the
commissions paid by insurance companies?

Shouldn't the Monetary Authority of Singapore make banks stick to their banking business and stop
behaving like insurance agents?

Jessie Loy (Ms)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Time for action on home loan rates?

Colin Tan
15 July 2011
TODAY (Singapore)
(c) 2011. MediaCorp Press Ltd.

Home loan rates are back in the news. In the latest move to maintain loan volumes in an uncertain
market, at least two Singapore banks have reportedly been dangling some of the lowest rates, currently
pegged at about 0.2 per cent to market benchmarks, on selected properties.

The offered mortgage rates are pegged against two commonly used benchmark interest rates. These
are the Singapore interbank lending rate (Sibor) and the swap offer rate (SOR). The three-month
Singapore dollar Sibor has been at a record low of 0.438 per cent since January, while the three-month

SOR has moved between 0.189 and 0.3 per cent since April. It now stands at 0.21 per cent.

The fact that these deals have not been offered to the rest of the market yet and with the marketing kept
low-profile, suggests that the banks themselves recognise that it would be counter-productive to engage
in an open mortgage war at this time.

However, it may not be too long before this happens, given the globaleconomic situation where at a
recent meeting of the United States Federal Reserve, policy-makers discussed “Quantitative Easing
Three”. And Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday that further stimulus might be needed to
help the US recovery.

Quantitative easing is a tool to try to revive the US economy by expanding the money supply via huge
purchases of government bonds. If this happens, foreign investors are likely to head back to our region
in a big way as they switch out of developed markets, such as the US and Europe, which have recently
been spooked by concerns of slowing growth.

The upsurge of fresh money seeking higher yields may trigger what one analyst calls the “mother of all

At 0.2 per cent, the first step towards buying a home must be almost painless. It may be the reason for
some of the recent buying in some projects in an otherwise gloomy market.

Buying sentiment had been significantly affected by the ongoing euro zone debt crisis. The last time our
private housing market was similarly downcast was in April last year when the Greek crisis erupted.

So, it was not the “Khaw” effect as some have suggested, referring to the uncertainty that has clouded
the market since Mr Khaw Boon Wan took over as Minister of National Development. Nor was it the
anxiety felt by the industry arising from the frequent blog postings of the minister.

It was due to macro-economic events. You cannot help notice the strong correlation every time a major
economic crisis looms on the horizon. But why should macro events play such a big part in affecting
buying sentiment? After all, home purchases are for the long term and should not be derailed by short term

Perhaps it is because most buyers these days are investors rather than owner-occupiers. Investors
always have their eye on the stock markets and when regional equity markets are rattled, they become

When it became clear to me about a year ago that there is a strong possibility that home loan rates may
remain low longer than anticipated, I sounded out to those around me that maybe we should
contemplate some official action to edge mortgage rates higher to reflect the longer term and to have
them at a more sustainable level. This would protect some of the naive home buyers or novice investors
from being seduced by the very low promotional rates for the initial loan period.

The first time I brought up the idea, many reacted in horror and dismissed it quickly without giving me a
chance to flesh out my suggestion. But as the months went by, each time I revisited the subject, I
noticed that the reaction, though still strong, was less vehement. Some were even beginning to be more
receptive to the idea.

More recently, I suggested that we change the rules by which the banks compete for home loans. All
loans should be on offered at a fixed rate for a fixed period, say, three or five years, but the banks
should be allowed to freely determine this rate. This means the banks can continue to offer 0.2 per cent
if they want to. However, the risk of assessing interest rate risks is passed onto the lenders.

Banks can protect themselves by hedging some of the risks by, say, offering better rates for fixed
deposit to cover themselves during this period.

Let me put it this way: Who is more able to gauge interest rate risks? As corporations with more
resources and being players in the financing industry themselves, banks are definitely better placed
than individuals to assess these risks.

The writer is head of research and consultancy at Chesterton Suntec International.

Home sweet loan

Robin Chan & Magdalen Ng
12 July 2011
Straits Times
(c) 2011 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

Home loans for as low as 0.2% for a few new projects and for a limited time. Move may be driven by
slowing mortgage applications

AT LEAST two Singapore banks have been dangling some of the lowest ever home loan rates,
currently pegged at about 0.2 per cent, on selected properties.

Analysts say the moves by DBS Bank and United Overseas Bank (UOB) may reflect intensifying
competition to maintain loan volumes in an uncertain market. These loans may be more attractive to
short-term property investors.

The two banks confirmed to The Straits Times yesterday they have offered mortgage rates pegged at
two commonly used benchmark interest rates - and not a whisker more - in the initial period.

These are the Singapore interbank lending rate (Sibor) and swap offer rate (SOR). The three-month
Singdollar Sibor has been at a record low of 0.438 per cent since January; the three-month SOR has
moved between 0.3 and 0.189 per cent since April. It is now 0.21 per cent.

The SOR tends to be more sensitive to exchange rate movements.

Typically, when banks use the Sibor or SOR, they add their own profit margin.

These new rock bottom rates are usually for a promotional period such as the first year or even longer -
after that a higher rate, such as the usual benchmark plus a margin, is applied.

Mr Vinod Nair, chief executive of website, which offers home loan comparisons, said the
low rates are more suitable for short-term investors.

Compare a SOR plus zero package that rises to SOR plus1 per cent after three years, and a flat SOR
plus 0.7 per cent package, on a $1 million, 30-year loan.

A person pays $5,430 in total interest for the first three years under the first package, compared to
$25,557 over the same period for the second, he said.

But over the 30-year loan tenure, he would actually pay less using the second package.

Dr Chua Hak Bin, economist at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, said the latest trend could be because mortgage applications have fallen, and there is 'intensified competition among banks to maintain mortgage loan volumes'.

He said lenders may also be anticipating more cooling measures which could hit loan volumes, and the
global slowdown may cause banks to focus more on mortgages and less on riskier corporate loans.

While home loans eased, total loans rose 24.2 per cent in May from a year earlier, the 'same highs seen
in mid-2008 before the global financial crisis hit', he added.

But Mr Tan Kok Keong, Orange Tee's head of research and consultancy, said mortgage packages with
zero spreads are not new, and he does not think lenders are about to engage in a price war as not every
bank can match the low rates.

'Neither will there be a spike in speculators entering the market because of the 16 per cent (sellers')
stamp duty,' he said, referring to one government cooling measure.

There have been at least three property launches since April featuring low-rate packages.
DBS is offering a Sibor plus zero package for Skyline Residences - a freehold condo in Telok Blangah
launched last week - till next Monday. The zero rate is for one year, then it rises.

At Woodhaven, a Far East Organization project launched last month in Woodlands, DBS is offering an
SOR plus zero package applying to the loan period until the property's completion, before the zero rating
also rises. The offer is set to end soon. A DBS spokesman said these are 'tactical offers... usually
available for a very short period and selectively offered at some launches'.

UOB said it had offered the SOR plus zero package for The Boutiq in Killiney Road, but it has ceased. A
UOB spokesman said: 'Apart from projects committed to previously, UOB will not be offering the SOR
plus zero home loan package.'

OCBC and Citibank have not offered similar deals this year. OCBC's head of consumer secured lending
Phang Lah Hwa said: 'It is not uncommon for players to revise offerings to stay competitive.'

Hefty deposit for hospitalising baby and refund takes too long

11 July 2011
Straits Times
(c) 2011 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

MY 21-MONTH-OLD daughter was recently hospitalised at the National University Hospital (NUH) due
to high fever.

The only available ward was Class A1, so we decided to take that. To our horror, we found out that a
deposit of $5,000 was required. We inquired about Class B1 and were told that would require a deposit
of $3,000.

We had no choice but to place the $5,000 deposit due to my daughter's condition. I asked the staff when
this deposit would be returned as I had used my credit card and was worried about the hefty interest
charges. The reply was that it would take two months.

I asked whether the time taken to return the deposit would be shorter if I paid my bill in full when my
daughter was discharged, and the answer was 'no'.

I have a few queries:

* Why does it take two months for the deposit to be credited back to the patient?
* What if the hospital does not have available beds in the lower-class wards and the family cannot afford
the hospital deposit?

* Why are hospitals allowed to take such a hefty deposit when so many of us have Medisave accounts
which should be there to protect and lessen the amount of cash we have to fork out for our medical

Shahnawaz Saleem

No deposit needed if Medisave can be used: NUH

11 July 2011

Straits Times
(c) 2011 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

FROM our records, Mr Shahnawaz Saleem had requested the non-subsidised Class A1 ward for his child's admission, similar to a previous admission.

For patients who choose a non-subsidised ward, a deposit is usually required unless the patient's
insurance, employee benefits and Medisave (subject to withdrawal limits) are sufficient to cover the
estimated hospitalisation charges.

Mr Shahnawaz had indicated that he would not use Medisave for this admission. As we did not have
details of the quantum of his insurance coverage, to ascertain if it would cover the estimated
hospitalisation bill without the use of Medisave, Mr Shahnawaz was asked to furnish a deposit.

Our staff would generally advise that a refund may take up to two months if it involves Medisave or insuranc e claims which need to be processed. For a previous admission where Mr Shahnawaz had used
his Medisave, the refund was made three weeks after his child's discharge.

Mr Shahnawaz asked what would happen if the hospital does not have available beds in the lower-class
wards and a patient cannot afford the hospital deposit.

Patients who choose subsidised wards are not required to furnish a deposit unless the estimated
hospitalisation bill is higher than the Medisave withdrawal limits or if the funds in the Medisave account
are insufficient.

Despite this, patients needing emergency care and who have financial difficulty will still be admitted if
the medical condition warrants so. If the choice of ward type is temporarily unavailable, the patient will
be cared for at the accident and emergency department and admitted to the ward as soon as the
assigned bed is available.

On the rare occasion where waiting time for the bed is expected to be exceptionally long, such as when
there is a surge in demand due to the unpredictable nature of emergencies, we will make arrangements
for the patient to be transferred to another restructured hospital which can offer a bed in the chosen
ward type.

We thank Mr Shahnawaz for the opportunity to address his concerns and would like to apologise for any
misunderstanding that may have arisen from his interaction with our staff.

Ang Kwok Ann
Director, Finance
National University Hospital

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Not all hospitals allow Medisave for cancer tests

Salma Khalik, Health Correspondent

2 July 2011
Straits Times
(c) 2011 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

WHILE Medisave can now be used to pay for colorectal and breast cancer screenings, not all public
hospitals are on the approved list.

Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Changi General Hospital are not on the list for colorectal screening.

Alexandra Hospital is not approved for both breast and colorectal screenings.

These hospitals do provide the services but patients cannot use Medisave to pay for them.

The Straits Times understands that they missed the deadline for submitting applications to be included
in the list. They are now doing so and are likely to make it to the list in the coming weeks.

Polyclinics and private centres, such as Raffles Hospital, are also on the approved list. This can be
accessed at the Ministry of Health (MOH) website

Colorectal cancer is the top cancer here, with 1,500 new cases a year. Breast cancer is the top cancer
among women, with 1,400 cases each year.

Medisave can be used only at places that 'meet the quality assurance requirements for the scheme',
said MOH. The quality assurance takes into account 'patient safety, staff competency and clinical quality

A ministry spokesman said the ministry will work with more centres to reach the requirements for
inclusion on the list.

To encourage early diagnosis, which greatly improves the chances of beating the two cancers, the Heal
th Ministry decided to allow people to use Medisave to offset the high cost of screening.

They may draw up to $950 for a colonoscopy, though a higher limit of $1,250 applies if polyps are found.

On top of that, they may claim up to $300 for any additional charges, such as for medicine.

This test, which costs about $1,000, is recommended once every 10 years for adults from age 50.

There are also cheaper stool tests to check for colorectal cancer which can be done at most clinics.

These should be done annually.

Women can tap the $300 a year from Medisave that is set aside for outpatient use to pay for a
mammogram to detect breast cancer. A mammogram costs about $100. Women aged 50 to 69 are
urged to go for one once every two years.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Medisave can be used for mammograms & colonoscopies

Medisave can be used for mammograms & colonoscopies

123 words
30 June 2011
Channel NewsAsia
(c) 2011 MediaCorp News Pte Ltd. All Rights Reserved

SINGAPORE : With effect from July 1, patients can use their Medisave for screening mammograms and

The Ministry of Health said this would make screening tests more affordable and accessible to

It said the change would benefit around 450,000 women for mammogram screening and one million
Singaporeans for colonoscopy screening.

Patients can withdraw up to S$300 from their Medisave account each year to offset the cost of their

On average, mammograms cost about S$100.

Subsidised mammograms are available for Singapore citizens and permanent residents at participating
BreastScreen Singapore centres.

The Medisave withdrawal limit for colonoscopy screening will be pegged at the prevailing withdrawal
limit for day surgery procedures.

- CNA/al