Integrated Shield Plan Rant

My dad is a skeptic. So when I told him that I’m considering changing over my integrated shield plan to something that is cheaper and offers better benefits (see here), he warned me that there is no free lunch in this world and advised for me to research thoroughly before making my decision. So I went to read up on Prudential and AXA shield and here’s what I found.

For private hospitalisation with rider that covers from the first dollar up, NTUC Income’s total premium over an average lifespan is actually slightly lesser than Prudential’s, while AXA is significantly cheaper than the two. I then told my dad about AXA and how it covers longer pre and post-hospitalisation periods. He gave me the same response, insinuating that there must be a catch somewhere to explain the lower premium rates.

And behold, my dad was right. After much searching through the depths of the inter web, I found out why AXA can afford to have their premiums so low despite the attractive benefits. That is:

“Letter of Guarantee (LOG) of up to S$100,000 at private hospitals if referred through our panel of Specialists”

As a layperson, reading this scares me.

Does it mean that to get LOG, I have to set an appointment with their specialist first before I can get admitted into the hospital? What if it’s really an emergency?

Would LOG still be issued if for example, I were to get admitted to Mount E first and then request to be seen by a Dr XXX that is listed in that panel? Because technically I wasn’t referred through him.

If I were to get admitted to a private hospital without going through the panel of specialists, my hospitalisation bill will be based on a reimbursement basis. Do I have sufficient emergency funds to cover the (not-so-affordable) private hospitalisation bill while awaiting reimbursement? And what is the success rate of reimbursement? Last thing I want to do while being ill is to worry about my finances.

I can imagine people worrying about this clause and opting to go to a restructured hospital instead to get the guaranteed LOG of $15,000 for a peace of mind even though they are eligible for private hospitalisation. This would then reduce the claims amount for the company as a whole, which I suppose is why they can keep their premium rates this low.

I’m quite interested to wait and see how the claiming process is like for people who are currently on the AXA Shield Plan A. Because this is a relatively new plan, there’s little information on the MOH website on the claims speed for AXA and there are very little anecdotal reviews on it on the internet.

So for now, I will continue to sit on my NTUC Enhanced Incomeshield Preferred. From age 50 till passing, I would opt for AXA Shield Plan B with the basic care rider. No questions about that. However, from now till then, I’m still undecided.

Disability Income Insurance or Early Critical Illness Insurance or both?

I’ve been reviewing my insurance coverage lately and realised that I am lacking in 2 areas: disability income insurance and early critical illness.

I feel that I’m adequately covered for all other aspects – death, total permanent disability, critical illness, personal accident and hospitalisation. However, because I have no dependents, I’m starting to think whether CI coverage is necessary for me since these usually pay out in the more severe stages of the disease – what can you do with the money when you’re so ill other than leaving it for your dependents?

Disability Income Insurance

Currently, my biggest asset is my skill in the workforce and I need to protect my only source of income (i.e. employment income). Disability income insurance is thus attractive for a young working adult like me. There are 3 insurance companies that provide this form of insurance: AIA Premier Disability, Aviva IdealIncome and GE PayAssure.

Below is a comparison I made for them 3 based on their product summaries. I do not guarantee the accuracy of these information, this is just for my own reference.

AIA Premier Disability Aviva IdealIncome GE PayAssure
Annual premium for 25yo non-smoker female for $2K monthly payout $710

(till age 60)


(till age 65)


(till age 60)


(till age 65)

Equivalent monthly premium $59.17 $61.75 $35 / $38
Premiums guaranteed? No No No
Definition of total disability during non-working periods Unable to perform 2 of 6 ADLs Unable to perform 3 of 6 ADLs Unable to perform 2 of 6 ADLs
Partial disability benefit

All calculated the same

Catastrophic disability benefit 24x
Rehab benefit 6x 3x 3x
Death benefit 12x = $24,000 $5000 6x = $12,000

Based on these information, Aviva appears to be most expensive and most difficult to qualify for payout. Its rehab and death benefits are also the least attractive.

I like the added catastrophic disability benefit provided by AIA, which I suspect is the reason for its high premium rate over GE. However, like I mentioned, I feel that I am adequately covered for death and total permanent disability, so I am truly looking for a basic no-frills disability income insurance.

So, GE PayAssure is looking especially attractive to me right now due to its affordable premium. Of course, I have to find a competent GE insurance agent who is ready to answer my list of questions about a specific clause of the product summary.

Early Critical Illness Insurance

There seems to be 2 schools of thought for this form of insurance.

Proponents say:

  • It is meant to take care of policyholder (which is applicable for me since I have no dependents)
  • It can cover for treatment costs that might not be covered by H&S insurance
  • It helps with living expenses if the policyholder needs to take break from working
  • It is good if you do not have enough savings to tide over that period
  • Depending on family history and lifestyle choices, the probability of claiming this insurance might be high.

Opponents say:

  • It is relatively expensive.
  • You could probably do a better job saving up that money for early CI instead of paying for premiums.
  • There may be overlaps with disability income insurance. So if you have disability income insurance, is early CI necessary?
  • Early CI rarely knocks you out of work.
  • Small chance of successful claim.
  • Common cancers like breast / prostrate may not be covered?

Budget is key for me, especially since I’m pretty fresh into the workforce and can’t afford to overdose on insurance. Even if I were to purchase one, I would probably get a small sum assured like $50,000.

I did a quick search of premium rates of early CI plans out there based on information available on the companies’ websites for a 30yo, non-smoker male of sum assured $50K. This is a non-exhaustive list and in order of premium rate:

  1. AXA Early-payout LivingEnhancer: $318/yr till 65yo
  2. Aviva My Early CI: $444/yr till 99yo
  3. PruEarly Stage Crisis Cover: $500/yr till 75yo
  4. AXA Early stage criticare: $600/yr till 65yo
  5. Manulife ManuComplete Care: $627/yr
  6. Aviva My Multipay CI: $675/yr till 75yo
  7. Tokio Marine EarlyCare: $768/yr

I took a close look at one of the product summaries for all the conditions covered (not going to reveal which one) to analyse the definition of “early” CI in detail.

As a rule of thumb, I’ve considered the following conditions to be relatively prevalent in SG: dementia, parkinson’s disease, stroke, cardiac related issues, cancer, loss of sight, loss of hearing, paralysis, kidney failure, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy. The others? Not so much, but this is just my own layman opinion.

So how “early” should the state of your CI be to qualify for early CI payout?

  • Dementia:  require constant supervision, “severe”.
  • Parkinson’s: cannot be controlled by medication, cannot perform 2 of 6 ADLs independently
  • Stroke: undergo craniotomy or shunt
  • Cardiac related issues: undergo balloon angioplasty with minimum 60% stenosis / undergo keyhole surgery / insertion of permanent pacemaker / undergo valvotomy or valvuloplasty
  • Paralysis: irreversible loss of function of one entire limb
  • Kidney failure: surgical removal of one kidney
  • Loss of hearing: 60dB (i.e. moderate-severe hearing loss)
  • Loss of sight: total and irreversible loss in one eye
  • Benign brain tumour: surgical removal / burr hole surgery
  • Cancer: carcinoma in situ (pre-malignant and non-invasive are thus excluded), T1N0M0 for thyroid cancer

I don’t know about you but these definition of “early” don’t exactly sound “early” to me. Perhaps I had too high expectations coming into this.

So if you get a early CI plan covering till age 65, the likelihood of claiming during that period of life based on the above severity is extremely low. Of course unless you have significant family history, then that’s a whole other story.

I might potentially look into Aviva My Early CI as it covers till age 99.


So I guess you can tell from this post that I’m gonna get the DII but possibly not early CI insurance unless the Aviva My Early CI is super attractive or reasonable to me in terms of their T&Cs.

What are your thoughts?



Wisdom Tooth Extraction Surgery in SG

People usually get their wisdom teeth extraction between ages 18-25. So mine is overdue. Both of my bottom wisdom teeth are impacted. My private dentist charges $900-1200 per tooth! Vomit blood! That’s potentially kissing $2400 goodbye.

So I’ve gone for the cheapo method – polyclinic referral to a hospital’s dental services. Not only do I get a subsidised rate, I’m also hoping for hospitalisation leave instead of MC. Need to save MC for rainy days.

Below is a timeline of how things unveiled.

  • 22 Jan 2017: I sent in an online request for a dentist appt at Woodlands Polyclinic on the NHG Online Appointment System.
  • 23 Jan 2017: Received a call from the polyclinic to arrange my appt. Few days later, received a letter in the post stating my appt date and time.
  • 10 Feb 2017 (Polyclinic): This was the earliest appt they had. I only had a consultation that lasted less than 10mins. Was initially offered to have my surgery at NUH because I live in the West but I asked for KTPH instead. (Btw I didn’t know that you can get a referral for a hospital in a different area! So I could have gone to Jurong polyclinic which is nearer to where I live to get a referral to KTPH!) Got my referral letter and called the number on the letter to arrange an appt with the KTPH dentist.
  • 24 Feb 2017 (KTPH consultation): The earliest appt available was actually on 20 Feb, but I couldn’t make it that day. This session was basically the dentist discussing the options of LA VS GA and the risk of surgery (i.e. damage to trigeminal nerve).
  • 20 March 2017 (KTPH surgery day): The earliest appt available was actually mid-March but I couldn’t make it due to work commitments.

So in summary,

  • Waiting times: approx 2 weeks between each step (i.e. request – polyclinic, polyclinic – KTPH consultation, KPTH consultation – surgery).

Why did I choose KTPH? Well, I heard that the dentistry dept there is not bad! And there’s a specific dentist there who has many good reviews online about her wisdom tooth removal skills. She is Dr Sylvia Tay. Of course, being a subsidised patient, I don’t have the luxury to choose my dentist. But let’s just say I’m very lucky. 🙂

Total cost:

  • Polyclinic: $15.10
  • Consultation and Xray @ KTPH: $57.87
  • Estimated cost for GA and 4-tooth extraction (excluding medications): $1400
  • Estimated cost for LA and 2-tooth extraction (excluding medications): $800
  • Actual cost for LA and 2-tooth extraction (including medications): $873.52

So, let me break it down for you:

  • Actual cost with polyclinic referral: $873.52
  • Actual cost without polyclinic referral: $1425.72
  • Private dentist estimated cost: $1800-$2400

$15 polyclinic letter can save you $550! Worth it!


One bad thing about POSB InvestSaver that no one has talked about

Regular savings plans like the POSB InvestSaver or OCBC Blue Chips Investment Plan (BCIP) were the talk of town quite a while ago. They implement the principles of index investing and dollar-cost averaging, and is especially suitable for investors with little capital or little investing experience.

When I first started my journey in July last year, I subscribed myself to the POSB InvestSaver plan with a meagre sum of $100 a month. With the 1% charge, units of the Nikko AM STI ETF are bought with the remaining amount. For myself, the charge would be $1 and units are purchased with a total sum that usually lies between $97-$99.

So many articles on the interweb have featured about the works of the POSB InvestSaver. However, one tiny detail was probably not pointed out.

When redeeming the units (i.e. selling), you are in no position to control the price at which the units will be sold. Once you click “Redeem RSP” on your i-banking platform, it gives an indicative net asset value per unit (e.g. $3.20). But in actual fact, that value is subjected to changes, depending on when the units are sold and the average price at which all the units (i.e. your units and other people’s units) are sold . So, even when the day’s highest were sold at $3.22, you might eventually be given a price of 3.17 per unit. And there’s no way to reverse the process if you are unhappy with sell price.

Luckily for me, because I bought so few units, $10 was not a huge difference to me. But I can imagine it being a significant figure to some if the capital invested was greater. So do consider this when deciding for such a plan!

Transaction-based interaction

One of the many beauties of humanity lies in the innate instinct to want to help others. Simple things that we see everyday like helping a lost tourist with directions, helping pick up items on the floor that a person has dropped, helping an elderly carry heavy bags, etc.

But there comes a time when these kind actions are implemented with an eventual motive in mind. Expectations of a transaction. The “I helped you so now, you help me” kind of mindset. Over the past two days, I had to go to Watsons to buy some toiletries. I love going to Watsons, because it’s my quiet time and I love looking out for good deals. Emphasis on “my quiet time”.

On three separate occasions, I was the receiver of some small acts of kindness, but all with the same end message – “please buy my product”. First it was slimming pills (which I feel severely offended by) then some dubious facial wash and then some supplements to help with vision (because wow what are the odds that I wear glasses). And how the promotors open to the topic was first to do sth nice for you – like telling you that the item you are intensely looking at is on discount or helping you get a basket. Once you accept or acknowledge that offer of kindness, they then redirect you to their product on some other aisle which you have no interest in whatsoever.

And because they helped you, they are imposing on you a sense of obligation to, at the very least, listen to them and not be rude. But at the same time, I don’t feel like I should be obliged to explain to you why I am not interested – “there’s insufficient scientific research or clinical trials to prove that this slimming agent works” or “my dermatologist recommended me to be on this brand of cleanser and I’ve been on it for many years” or “I’m already taking too many health supplements and my eyesight been the same for more than 10 years”.

I understand its’ their job to sell and promote their items. But perhaps… do it with a little more dignity and pride. And some sense of social awareness and understanding too.

Integrated Shield Plans – which is best for me?

I was recently admitted to hospital for a bad case of viral infection. My private hospitalisation bill amounted to approx $6500 for a 3 day stay, with $100 pre-hospitalisation GP bills.

Thanks to my Enhanced Incomeshield cover with the Plus rider, I did not have to pay a single cent for the hospitalisation. But that got me thinking – as much as I felt relieved to be covered, was I getting the bang of my buck? So here’s an analysis for me to decide on which plan best suits me at this point in my life.

Round 1: Type of shield plan

Having seen the back end of how the medical industry works, I would definitely like to keep an integrated shield plan for private hospitals for as long as I can afford it because I like the idea of being seen by just a consultant alone (whose clinical skill I (blindly) trust) rather than a group of clinicians ranging from consultants all down to the house officers with little experience (no offence), where not all clinical decisions might be run by the consultants before being made. They might be small decisions, but impactful in many ways to the patient if made wrongly or not as ideally.

Round 2: Insurer

The Medishield Life website also provides a comparison of all the integrated shield plans available in the market by all the insurers in Singapore, which includes NTUC income, AIA, Great Eastern, Prudential, Aviva and AXA. On the basis of personal preference, I would like to eliminate AIA, GE and Aviva. This is mainly because I don’t have contacts of reliable FAs from these companies through close family or friends and for a huge part, my impression of the companies. This leaves me with NTUC income, Prudential and AXA.

Round 3: The details

This leaves me with the NTUC Income’s Enhanced Incomeshield Preferred VS Prudential’s PruShield A Premier VS AXA Shield Plan A. Now… Fight! Here are the differences:

NTUC Income Prudential AXA
Pre-hospitalisation treatment limit As charged

(up to 90 days)

As charged

(up to 180 days)

As charged

(up to 180 days)

Post-hospitalisation treatment limit As charged

(up to 90 days)

As charged

(up to 365 days)

As charged

(up to 365 days)

Subsidised day surgery / short stay wards deductibles 2000 1500 3000
Unsubsidised day surgery / short stay wards deductibles 3500 2000 3000
Policy year limit 700,000 1,200,000 1,000,000

First place goes to Prudential, followed by AXA and NTUC Income comes in last at this leg of the race.

Round 4: Premium rate for plan without rider

At my current age of 25:

  • NTUC Enhanced Incomeshield Preferred: $373
  • Prudential PruShield A Premier: $360
  • AXA Shield Plan A: $361

Just as above, first place goes to Prudential, followed by AXA and NTUC Income comes in last.

Round 5: The co-pay riders

NTUC Income’s co-pay rider (i.e. Assist rider) requires the insured to co-pay 10% of the hospital bill with a cap at $3000. Prudential’s (i.e. Prushield extra lite) requires the insured to co-pay 50% of the deductible with a cap at $1750. AXA has no such rider.

Premium rate of the plan with co-pay rider:

  • NTUC Enhanced Incomeshield Preferred: $373 + $190 = $563
  • Prudential PruShield A Premier: $360 + $210 = $570

Using the scenario of my $6500 hospital bill, I will have to co-pay $650 (NTUC) VS $1750 (Prudential).

In order for my co-payment for Prudential to be lower than the cap of $1750, the hospital bill has to be less than the full deductible sum of $3500, which is quite unlikely for a private hospital stay.

Assuming however that my hospital bill is increased to an arbitrary sum of $20,000, I will have to co-pay $2000 (NTUC) VS $1750. At my age, I think the possibility of having a hospital bill that high is slightly lower, as this sum might involve either a much longer stay, a surgery or a very complex medical complaint.

For this round, I think NTUC Income is the winner on the basis of probability at my current age.

Round 6: The full coverage riders

This means no payment at all is required in the event of hospitalisation.

Premium rate of the plan with this:

  • NTUC Enhanced Incomeshield Preferred: $373 + $306 = $679
  • Prudential PruShield A Premier: $360 + $366 = $726
  • AXA Shield Plan A: $391 + $322 = $721

Based on premium rate comparison alone, seems like my current plan with NTUC Income is a wise decision.

Round 7: Which rider should I get?

Just a bit of background, my parents had actually purchased my health insurance since I was age 1.5yrs old. Meaning, the total premium paid till date for the Plus rider is approx $7500. Prior to this, I was hospitalised once before at age 10 and had a surgery done. Same thing, did not need to pay a single cent.

So if I null the premium paid before age 10, my total premium paid for the Plus rider from age 10 to 25 (i.e. 16 years) is approx $4500. If i bought the Assist rider instead, the total premium for the same period would be approx $2800. That is a difference of $1700. So a hospitalisation bill has to be at least $17,000 to “break-even” at this point, for the Plus Rider to make sense. And that is close to the $20,000 arbitrary number I used, which I assumed would involve a much longer stay, a surgery or a very complex medical complaint.

Based on my recent hospitalisation, if I had the co-pay rider, I would have to fork out $650. That would amount to approx 6 years worth ($650 / ($306-$190)) of the additional premium I’m paying for the Plus rider.

My Other Considerations Currently

Because of the nature of my job, I have actually been falling ill pretty frequently. So I suspect I might potentially have multiple small admissions in the future. However, I cannot rule out a potential surgery for things like appendicitis or worse, accidents. (touch wood).

Future Considerations

Looking long-term, at age 50 and above, I think that the pre- and post- hospitalisation treatment limits are of utmost importance. Because recovery times tend to be longer than when we’re young and we’re looking at increased possibility of cardiac issues, stroke, etc that requires frequent follow ups for quite a period of time post-discharge. Meaning, Prudential and AXA’s offer of 180 days pre- and 365 days post- would serve as better coverage. Goodbye, NTUC Income.

In the those later years, the premium rate for the shield plans would increase drastically. Although NTUC Income comes at a cheaper premium than Prudential or AXA for private hospitalisation, I doubt I can afford a private shield plan then (approx $400-$500 every month for the plan alone!). I would probably settle for A or B1 class wards. So now, my worry is that if I were to develop a medical condition from now till age 49, and want to change my insurer in the later years, wouldn’t it complicate matters since now I am considered to have a “pre-existing medical condition”?

Just from a short (and maybe not as accurate) check, Prudential’s A Plus plan with extra lite rider would make the most sense in my silver years. Because hospitalisations will occur pretty frequently esp from age 70-100, the cap of $1750 per policy year will make a lot of sense. Moreover, AXA’s rider for full coverage would be substantially more expensive.

My Final Decision

I would probably stick to my NTUC Income plan with the Plus Rider at the moment. However, I will review my insurance again at age 30, with the eventual aim of converting to Prudential’s A Plus plan with the extra lite rider before any “pre-existing medical conditions” set in.

“I should have bought them!”

There were 4 stocks that I had wanted to wait for a lower buy price but who knew they were actually at their lowest when I noticed them and have now gone much higher. T.T

Lesson learnt perhaps? Never be too greedy.

They were:

  • Global Logistics Properties
  • OCBC Bank
  • Frasers Centrepoint Trust
  • ComfortDelgro

It’s ok, I’m sure patience will pay off eventually.

I don’t need health insurance… right?

What if the company you work in provides staff benefits in the form of paid hospitalisations? Would you still require H&S insurance then?

For example, the company I work in pays for 90% of its staff’s hospitalisation bills in ward A of government hospitals, meaning that we are only required to pay 10%. That’s equivalent to an integrated shield plan covering to class A of public hospitals with co-payment of 10%, isn’t it? So why do I have to subject myself to paying extra premiums for H&S insurance when I can get the same benefits for free?

But, are they really the same benefits though? Stayed tuned for my thoughts.

Charting my progress

A sequel to my post “my first stock picks“. Haven’t done much since then. Like I mentioned, I’m testing the waters as a complete beginner here.


My Thoughts:

  • SIA: my very first buy in Sept 2016 (6 months ago). Tiny regret for that decision but hey, I’m treating it as “school fees” for myself. Lesson learnt: have stricter stock picking criteria and to make more prudent decisions in the future.
  • Singtel: bought at a not so desirable price of 3.93. I was too eager when I started buying stocks for my portfolio during those first initial days. Lesson learnt: be patient.
  • All others: entered at fair prices, which I am very satisfied with. Especially with DBS at 14.98.

Overall, based on market close prices today (1 Feb 2017) and including all commissions (approx $17 per transaction) and dividends received during these 6 months, my portfolio as a whole has a net gain of 3.96%. Baby steps! 🙂

Dividend Investing: Learning Points

Below is a summary of my learning points from an online dividend investing course I purchased.

Dividend Stock Picking Criteria

  1. Company’s credit rating of B+ or better
  2. Net income grows 5-10% annually + stable / growing operating cashflow
  3. Consistent growth in cash / cash equivalents for past 3 years or longer
  4. Debt coverage ratio of at least 3 : 1
  5. Positive business growth and integrity of management
  6. Dividend yield > 4%
  7. Dividend growth rate > 5%, 8-10% is ideal.
  8. Dividend payout ratio: 30-60%
  9. Average ROE (past 3-5 years) > 12%, previous year’s ROE > 15%
  10. Insider action

When to sell

  • Faltering dividend / dividend that does not grow as it should
  • Change in company’s dividend policy
  • Unexpected growth in dividend payout ratio
  • No dividend increase for a full year
  • Dividends suddenly been cut

The course was pretty useful in that it spelt out everything clearly, especially for beginners like myself.