Reduced Plans with reduced benefits

TWO of the existing Central Provident Fund (CPF) plans for seniors, Life Plus and Life Income, project similar and higher monthly annuity payouts than those of the current CPF Minimum Sum Scheme (‘CPF Life plans to be simplified from 4 to 2′; Tuesday).
In fact, the most popular plan so far for those who voluntarily opted for CPF Life was Life Plus, probably because the payouts were higher than those for the Minimum Sum Scheme (MSS).
I believe most Singaporeans were persuaded to buy in, in order to support the CPF Life scheme, because of the higher payouts offered by these two plans.
So it may be a disappointment that both the new plans have reduced payouts compared to the MSS’.
The most popular plan gave higher payouts than the MSS, so how is it possible that feedback from CPF members led to the crafting of just two plans, both of which pay less than the MSS?
As the bequest drops rapidly to zero at around age 77 and 83 for Life Plus and Life Balanced, respectively, does combining the two into the new Standard (default) plan mean that the bequest will drop to zero at an earlier age than 83?
This may have implications for lower-income widows as their life expectancies are longer than those of their husbands on CPF Life plans, given that a third are expected to live beyond 90.
Instead of relying merely on the feedback of those who opted in so far to decide on the new plans, the actuarial report on the CPF Life scheme should be made public. In this way, all stakeholders can help to analyse and offer feedback or suggestions on the scheme, including the design, life expectancy and return, as well as the assumptions and computations.
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Leong Sze Hian
Leong Sze Hian is the Past President of the Society of Financial Service Professionals, an alumnus of Harvard University, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow and an author of 4 books. He is frequently quoted in the media. He has also been invited to speak more than 100 times in 25 countries on 5 continents. He has served as Honorary Consul of Jamaica, Chairman of the Institute of Administrative Management, and founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of Brunei and Indonesia. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional qualifications. He blogs at http://www.leongszehian.com.
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I do not need to be an actuary to determine the reduced payout compared to MSS, but I understand the fact you need to increase your pool of policyholders instead of offering four choices which will dilute the risks and caused premiums to be more expensive. I for one would recommend a co-op model instead of a for profit model to lower the costs as this is a national health insurance policy, as the returns suggest it is definitely a for profit model that will help the insurer make money, not pass the benefits to the policyholder, the government has an obligation to co-sponsor such a policy, to make costs more affordable to every rightful citizen, instead of putting money into the pockets of the insurer, yes there are risks involved, but it can be properly managed to give nominal returns, not a sure win scenerio.


– Contributed by Oogle.

Self-immolations will not solve Tibetan rights

BEIJING (AP) – Tibetans including a prominent writer under virtual house arrest in Beijing are pleading for an end to self-immolations in protest of Chinese rule, saying such self-destructive measures do nothing for the cause of Tibetan rights.
Poet Tsering Woeser said in online appeal posted on Thursday that she is ‘grief-stricken’ by the more than two dozen people who have set themselves on fire over the past year. She called on influential Tibetans, including monks and intellectuals, to help end the deadly form of protest.
China has sought to portray the wave of immolations – including three since Saturday – as the result of outside orchestration rather than what activists say is local anguish over the government’s suppression of Tibetan religion and culture.
Many of the protesters have been linked to a Buddhist monastery in the mountainous Aba prefecture of Sichuan province. 
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I know many have been taught “An Eye for an Eye” but I will teach you that “if a person slap you on the right cheek, let him slap you on the left cheek also”. This is no way to extend your Tibetan’s rights and if you believe in God, let Him handle the issue, and there will be peace and love on earth.
– Contributed by Oogle. 

Breakthrough in organ transplants?

Updated 01:06 PM Mar 09, 2012
CHICAGO – Scientists have found a way to trick the immune system into accepting organs from a mismatched, unrelated organ donor, a finding that could help patients avoid a lifetime of drugs to prevent rejection of the donated organ.

Of eight kidney transplant patients who have been treated with this new approach, five have managed to avoid taking anti-rejection drugs a year after their surgery, according to the study published on Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine.

And one patient, 47-year-old Lindsay Porter of Chicago, is completely free of anti-rejection drugs nearly two years after her kidney transplant.

I hear about the challenges recipients have to face with their medications and it is significant. It’s almost surreal when I think about it because I feel so healthy and normal,” she said.

With conventional organ transplants, recipients need to take pills to suppress their immune systems for the rest of their lives. These drugs can cause serious side effects, including high blood pressure, diabetes, infection, heart disease and cancer.

This new approach would potentially offer a better quality of life and fewer health risks for transplant recipients,” Dr. Suzanne Ildstad, director of the Institute of Cellular Therapeutics at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, who developed the new approach, said in a statement.

But some experts say the procedure, in which patients undergo a bone marrow transplant from an unmatched organ donor, is too risky, especially given the relative safety of kidney transplants.

We have to think about the risks and benefits. Since the current treatment is so stable, it really has to be safe,” said Dr. Tatsuo Kawai, a transplant surgeon at Harvard Medical School, who wrote a commentary on the new approach in the journal.

The new technique draws on research by Australian immunologist Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet and Brazilian-born British zoologist Peter Medawar, who won the 1960 Nobel Prize for discovering that the immune system in animals can be trained to acquire tolerance of foreign tissue. REUTERS