Three do-not-miss Opinion pieces 

I’m often amazed - and grateful - that busy people with real lives and expert knowledge take time to pen their thoughts on issues of the day and send them to The Straits Times. It’s my happy duty to read them and pick some for publication.

This week, three pieces from such contributors stood out for me. 

The first is the best commentary I’ve read on health insurance in a long time - and I’ve read and written many.

Finance professional Victor Lye, who runs an insurance company, wrote on a potential structural flaw in MediShield Life. 

The Ministry of Health hasn’t disclosed how the new MediShield life, the national universal health insurance scheme, will dovetail with private integrated Shield plans that offer enhanced benefits.

Mr Lye astutely pinpoints an opportunity for “actuarial cherry-picking” in the current design. 

Private insurance companies can sign up young, healthy people able to pay high premiums for enhanced coverage. When these people get older and premiums go up, insurers can jack up the premiums so high, these old folks end up giving up their policies.

What happens to them? They get back onto the national MediShield Life plan. Since they’re old at that stage and more likely to get sick, their medical claims come from MediShield Life, not from the private insurance company that had pocketed their premiums when they were healthy.

What this means is that private insures make profits from insuring young healthy people, while MediShield Life bears the burden of paying out the claims from this same group of people when they get old.

What to do with this problem? 

He has a solution in his article here:

MediShield Life: Don't let private insurers pick all the cherries

Mr Lye, by the way, is a People’s Action Party activist. I liked that he was totally upfront declaring his party affiliation when we corresponded. I didn’t hold it against him one way or the other - the merit of the argument in the piece speaks for itself.

The second piece I really liked is from two environmental economists Parkash Chander and Euston Quah.

It uses game theory and ideas of tradeable pollution rights to suggest a way of getting countries to cooperate on haze-fighting efforts. The authors have done studies to estimate the impact of the haze on Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. They then come up with a formula to suggest how to share the costs of fighting the haze.

The article is here:

Tackling haze with cost sharing

Be it not said that academics live in ivory towers, if from those towers they churn out data, insights and applied research that help solve problems in the valley.

The third piece that got my attention is from someone far from the ivory tower, who’s slugging it out in the business field. By day, Devadas Krishnadas runs an education and consulting business.

At other times, he writes thoughtful pieces like this one, which The Straits Times reprinted - with his permission of course - from a longer piece on his Facebook page. He asks if recent changes to the PAP policies are just new wine in old bottles. And he warns of rise of political provocateurs online. You don’t have to agree with him, but I would highly recommend you to read his sober analysis here:

'All lose, lose all' risk if political provocateurs win

If you like these articles, I hope you will bookmark this page. We put up a selection of thoughtful commentaries from The Straits Times print edition daily.

Happy reading!