08 April 2007

The Power of Knowledge - General Knowledge

General Knowledge is one of the many forms of our human intelligence.

General knowledge is a very good indicator of mental skills acquired through education and experience. People with a good knowledge base exhibit greater retention of facts and figures and are regarded more intelligent. They are more conscious of the connectivity between different information which they learn and this helps them retrieve information stored in their long term memory more easily.

This is the Power of General Knowledge.

There are many ways to to unleash this power within us. One of the easiest way, as mentioned above, is to widen our knowledge base, through reading. And there is a tool to even facilitate this.

Many websites support RSS Feeds now. And there are also many free feeds readers available on the web. These readers search the websites, with web addresses pre-entered into the reader, for latest updates such as news. The reader is also very easy to install onto our computer.

One such reader which i am currently using is the free FeedReader, available for download from www.feedreader.com.

Below are a few of the feeds that i am currently reading everyday. You may want to use the following links to test out your feeds reader after it is installed. The links should lead you to more feeds on the various news websites.

ABCNews International

AP Top Business News At 6 a.m.

BBC News News Front Page UK Edition

Business Times Online - Companies News

BusinessWeek Online -- Investing

Channel NewsAsia Singapore Business News

CNNMoney.com Recently Published/Updated

Economist.com Global Agenda

Forbes.com Business News

Guardian Unlimited

HDB Press Releases

Investment Ideas - Larry MacDonald's blog about investing and markets

Investopedia.com Headlines

ListedCompany.com News

NYT > Home Page

Reuters: Investing

SGX-MAS Research Incentive Scheme

The Economist



Yahoo! Finance: Why the Rich Get Richer by Robert Kiyosaki

Yahoo! News: Business

Even this blog of mine supports RSS feeds. :-O

Unleash the power within you NOW!

Life is Great! Live Hard! Read Even Harder!

Leroy Ang
"When I Stop Learning, I Stop Living"

06 April 2007

The Power of Protection

Since my last post regarding MediShield, I'd received great comments and sharing from my buddies. Thanks! :-)

One such sharing I'd received is about AIA's Pink of Health, a rider that you can add on to your policy. I am not sure if this product is stil being offered as of now (as i can't find it on the AIA Singapore website).

Another sharing that caught my attention is there are alot of Singaporeans who cannot even afford the basic MediShield Plan. I really cannot visualise what will happen to this group of our fellow citizens should misfortune really falls onto them. Most likely this group of citizens may not even have the basic financial knowledge to start with. While our Govt may be thinking of how to help those in the lower income group, I wonder what can we do for them. Maybe you will like to share your views regarding this point in the comments to this blog entry. (See Power of Sharing, www.leroyang.blogspot.com/2007/02/power-of-sharing.html)

This leads me to the realisation of the Power of Protection.

Some financial planners calls it Assets Protection, while some calls it Wealth Protection. Whatever it is, what are the means of protection you can have to protect yourself in the events some unfortunate events happen on you?

While health, life or term insurances covers the unforeseen circumstances, in events that you may just suddenly leave this world, or suffer from critical illness, or total permanent disability, income lost or whatever, insurance do cover the basic to tide you or your family through for a while. This can help buy time for them to source for alternative income streams if you are the main bread winner. Some of our fellow Singaporeans cannot even afford to pay for the basic coverage!

On the other hand, I wonder how many know about Estate Duty. No, not the kind of guard duty you do for your real estate. It's actually a "death tax" that our Govt will tax on our family when we die (actually the tax is on your remaining assets that you left behind, but i used "our family" here b'coz if we die, we will not be around to pay the tax, ya). To know more about Estate Duty Act, see Chapter 96 from Singapore Statutes Board (www.statutes.agc.gov.sg)

Yes, you see me correctly. Tax on our death. Sound strange? The intent for this tax is actually wealth distribution to the rest of our fellow citizens through our Govt. What we may not even realise is our family may not even be able to afford to pay this tax should we suddenly leave this world. Then our hard earned assets ganna witheld by Govt. Our death may leave a pile of "Suete" (pronounce it in Mandrain) for our family to clear. What to do? Times are hard. Your insurance claim by your family members may also be withheld if the coverage crosses certain amount, which may be deemed as assets. So you think you have left behind a huge pile of gold for your family should you die, think again.

Luckily Govt has in place some "offset" to help those poor family "escape" from paying this tax. Those who do not have much assets left behind need not pay estate duty, but up to a certain amount only. Those very rich but did not plan for his death may have their family going through a rough ride in order to get his left behind assets release to them.

Of course, every problem has its solution. There are several ways to overcome this unnecessary difficulties. One of the tool the Rich uses is setting up a Trust. There are many other tools which the middle class or the poor may find useful too.

The point here is, Plan Early to achieve maximum protection. Speak to a financial planner near you as soon as possible. (Maybe I can study, take the test and become a qualified financial planner, ya. Any supporter?! ;-O)

Of course this aspect is just a small part of assets protection. There are still a lot of protection we will need to put in place in order to have a good night sleep. As to what protection we need or can afford to have very much depend on the level of Financial Education we are at. If we can learn early, plan early and start early, Why Wait until the cow come home?

Take Ownership, Take Action NOW!

Sweet dreams,

"When I Stop Learning, I Stop Living"

01 April 2007

MediShield: How covered are you?

Wow! Just met Sherman Dass (my financial planner) and Kelly (my insurance agent from Prudential) recently to review my financial status and insurance coverage. Sherman has been a Financial Planner (he covers alot of areas, more than just insurance. He can help you prepare a Will if you need too) for more than 2 years and Kelly has been my insurance partner for more than 2 years. In fact i started with her husband my first ILP policy as early as 8 years ago.

After our meetings, one point that set me thinking was, "There are loop holes in my MediShield plan!".

If you do not know what is MediShield, i quote a para from CPF website (http://mycpf.cpf.gov.sg/Members/Gen-Info/FAQ/HealthCare/MSH.htm):

"MediShield is a catastrophic medical insurance scheme that will help you and your dependants meet the costs of treatment for serious illnesses or prolonged hospitalisation. From 1 July 2005, MediShield will pay more of the large hospital bills at the Class B2/C level with the higher claim benefits."

So you see, MediShield seems like a term insurance that our Govt has in good intention for our citizens. The basic MediShield plan can be paid using our CPF MediSave (so not so painfully on our wallets).

Who ever provides the coverage is not really an issue as long as they continue to provide the coverage @ cheaper price. During my recent read up and review, i'd realise that my MediShield do not cover 100% of my possible hospital and surgical (H&S) bills!

Surprise! ;-)

You thought your plans covers 100% of all the possible H&S bills? Check your policy's small print again. "As charged" plans is still not 100% mind you.

There are 2 components of MediShield that you should pay some attention to:

1. Deductable. The amount stated under this item is something like our car insurance "excess". Which means, no matter how much is the bill, you have to pay this amount upfront to the hospital (and this is not claimable under your policy lor!). For e.g. if your hospital bill is $5,000 and your MediShield deductable is $3,000, you have to pay $3K to the hospital, and your MediShield covers your remaining $2K. When i write covers here, it is still not full coverage. Read my Point 2 below.

2. Co-Payment. This is the amount that you have to pay on the amount cover by your plan. Most plans quote 10% or 20% under this item. Using the earlier e.g. in Point 1 above, and assuming your co-pay % is 10%. If your MediShield covers $2K of the bill, in actually fact, your insurance company will pay only 90% or $1,800 of the bill. You will have to fork out another $200 to cover the rest of the bill!

Wah Lao! <Faint>

Why did we buy insurance in the first place? To ease our mind in case the worst really happen during our lifetime. What can be more worst than realising that your plan do not really cover what you assume will be covered when the worst really happens!?!? Die-lor.

If your deductable is $3,000 and hospital bill is $2,400, you cannot claim. If your next treatment or hospital stay is $2,900, you also cannot claim. Then you will start asking yourself why did i pay for the MediShield in the first place???

So check your policy statements again, especially on the Deductable Amt and Co-Payment % to achieve a peace of your mind. I just achieved mine. ;-)

As of now, the market that offers 100% coverage for H&S comes with a price. A price that you cannot use your CPF MediSave to pay. But it is worth considering paying that little bit more using cash to achieve real "100%" coverage. A good choice comes from NTUC Income at this point in time. I took up this one. (I don't get commission from NTUC Income mind you).

At the moment, my NTUC IncomeShield (Basic MediShield offered by NTUC Income) cost me $55, paid using my CPF medisave. I opted for the "as charged" plan called, Enhanced IncomeShield (Advantage), to enhance all other possible claim amount on alot of small small items in govt hospital. This cost me $136, paid using my CPF MediSave. Then i add on a rider @ $92 in cash to remove the deductable and co-payment component.

Sigh... peace of mind do come with a price.

If you are interested to find out more about this plan from NTUC Income, you may want to contact Sherman (kelvindass@ippfa.com) directly for a free consultation. Just quote my name in order not to confuse him on how you get his contact. (I want to highlight again that i do not get any commission from this intro or any subsequent deal that you may have with Sherman, k!)

H&S cannot be claim from 2 separate insurance companies at this point in time, not like the lump sum payment from our life policy. So check your H&S policy again, and again, for a peace of mind.

Have a good sleep, Cheers!

"When I Stop Learning, I Stop Living"