Following discussions between AIBEA, finance ministry, SBI and IBA, the unions have decided to defer their 25th September strike across the country
The All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and the Bank Employees Federation of India have deferred their all-India bank strike on 25th September following a clarification from the union government and State Bank of India (SBI). According to AIBEA, the government and SBI clarified that no decision has been taken on merger of public sector banks (PSBs) or associate banks at present.
Chief Labour Commissioner (CLC) had convened a meeting between the unions, Indian Bank's Association (IBA), SBI and the Finance Ministry. During the meeting, AIBEA said it explained reasons for the strike call. "We also submitted why licences should not be given to corporate houses to start their own Banks. We also expressed our protest against the frequent utterances in the press about possible merger of Public Sector Banks, as also Associate Banks with SBI. We also demanded that the Associate Banks be de-linked from SBI and made independent Banks so that they can progress better," AIBEA said in a statement.
During the meeting, IBA stated that all these issues are of policy nature and hence they have no jurisdiction over the same. The SBI representative stated that even though there have been proposals before them, no decision has been taken at present for closure or merger of associate banks. The government representative also clarified that no proposal for merger of PSBs or merger of any associate bank with SBI has been received by them.
As regards service conditions of employees of associate banks, IBA stated that the same would be governed by the Bipartite Settlement and no unilateral imposition of any service conditions.
Following the clarifications from IBA, SBI and finance ministry, the bank unions decided to defer its strike.
The 25th September strike call was given by bank unions to protest against the government’s proposal to effect mergers among public sector banks. They are also against the merger of associate banks with SBI.
Dozens of babies die every year because hospitals do not perform a simple test that detects congenital heart defects. Seventeen states have yet to require the exam for newborns
On July 10, my wife gave birth to a seemingly healthy baby boy with slate-blue eyes and peach-fuzz hair. The pregnancy was without complications. The delivery itself lasted all of 12 minutes. After a couple of days at Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut, we were packing up when a paediatric cardiologist came into the room.
We would not be going home, she told us. Our son had a narrowing of the aorta and would have to be transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital at Columbia, where he would need heart surgery.
It turned out that our son was among the first in Connecticut whose lives may have been saved by a new state law that requires all newborns to be screened for congenital heart defects.
It was just by chance that we were in Connecticut to begin with. We live in New York, where such tests will not be required until next year. But our doctors were affiliated with a hospital just over the border, where the law took effect Jan. 1.
As we later learned, congenital heart problems are the most common type of birth defect in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about one in 555 newborns have a critical congenital heart defect that usually requires surgery in the first year of life.
Many cases are caught in prenatal ultrasounds or routine newborn exams. But as many as 1,500 babies leave American hospitals each year with undetected critical congenital heart defects, the C.D.C. has estimated.
Typically, these babies turn blue and struggle to breathe within the first few weeks of life.
They are taken to hospitals, often in poor condition, making it harder to operate on them.
By then, they may have suffered significant damage to the heart or brain. Researchers estimate that dozens of babies die each year because of undiagnosed heart problems.
The new screening is recommended by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Yet more than a dozen states — including populous ones like Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, Wisconsin and Washington — do not yet require it.
The patchy adoption of the heart screening, known as the pulse oximetry test, highlights larger questions about public health and why good ideas in medicine take so long to spread and when we should legislate clinical practice.
Newborns are already screened for hearing loss and dozens of disorders using blood drawn from the heel. The heart test is even less invasive: light sensors attached to the hand and foot measure oxygen levels in the baby’s blood. This can cost as little as 52 cents per child.
Our son’s heart defect was a coarctation of the aorta, a narrowing of the body’s largest artery. This made it difficult for blood to reach the lower part of his body, which meant that the left side of his heart had to pump harder.
In the hospital, though, he appeared completely healthy and normal because of an extra vessel that newborns have to help blood flow in utero. But that vessel closes shortly after birth, sometimes revealing hidden heart problems only after parents bring their babies home.
Depending on the heart defect, the onset of symptoms can be sudden.
This is what happened to Samantha Lyn Stone, who was born in Suffern, N.Y., in 2002.
A photograph taken the day before she died shows a wide-eyed baby girl lying next to a stuffed giraffe. The next morning, her mother, Patti, told me, she was wiping Samantha’s face when she heard a gurgle from the baby’s chest.
Before her eyes, Samantha was turning blue. Blood began to spill from her mouth. Ms. Stone dialed 911, and minutes later, a doctor who heard the call over a radio was there performing CPR. Samantha went to one hospital and was flown to another.
But the damage was irreparable. Samantha had gone 45 minutes without oxygen: She lapsed into a coma and died six days later.
It wasn’t until several years later that Ms. Stone learned about the pulse oximetry test. “This could have saved my daughter,” she told me. “There is no parent that should ever have to go through what I went through.”
Pulse oximetry is not a costly, exotic procedure. Most hospitals already have oximeters and use them to monitor infants who suffer complications. You can buy one at Walmart for $29.88.
A recent study in New Jersey, the first state to implement the screening, estimated that the test cost $13.50 in equipment costs and nursing time. If hospitals use reusable sensors similar to those found on blood-pressure cuffs, the test could cost roughly fifty cents.
As medical technology advances, few screenings will be so cheap or simple. Recent years have seen controversy over prostate cancer and mammography screenings. Medical ethicists have to weigh the costs of each program and the agony caused by a false positive against the lives saved.
But with pulse oximetry, the false positive rate is less than 0.2 percent — lower than is seen for screenings newborns already get. The follow-up test is usually a noninvasive echocardiogram, or an ultrasound of the heart. A federal advisory committee came down in favor — three years ago.
“There’s really no question, scientifically, this is a good idea,” said Darshak Sanghavi, a pediatric cardiologist and a fellow at the Brookings Institution. “The issue is, how do we change culture?”
Opposition has taken two forms. One is from doctors who believe policy makers shouldn’t interfere with how medical professionals do their jobs. The other is from smaller hospitals, which worry about access to echocardiograms and the costs of unnecessary transfers.
These concerns can be addressed fairly easily. Nurses in New Jersey and elsewhere have been able to work the test into their normal routines. A rural hospital should already have a protocol to transfer a newborn in serious condition. If Alaska can do it, less remote states can, too.
But this is not simply a rural health care problem. Cardiologists and neonatologists I’ve spoken with said they knew of hospitals in New York City, Boston and metropolitan Atlanta that weren’t screening newborns for heart defects.
“It’s completely the luck of the draw of where you deliver,” said Annamarie Saarinen, who has pushed for the screening since her daughter narrowly avoided leaving the hospital with an undetected heart defect.
Fortunately, our son’s condition was also caught and corrected. The only lasting effects are a three-inch scar on his side and checkups with a cardiologist. He will live a normal life. He will be able to play sports and climb things he’s not supposed to.
Shouldn’t every baby have that chance?
Traditional insurance products are set for makeover from October. Insurers will have to provide the prospective policyholder a customised benefit illustration. It is time that insurers’ offers become transparent, instead of them handing out worthless generic benefit illustrations
Consider a prospective customer aged 50 years wanting to buy a 10-year premium payment term (PPT) LIC Jeevan Anand policy. What is the value if he is shown a benefit illustration for a 35-year old buying a 25-year PPT policy? The generic illustration is a worthless piece of data, as the mortality rates increase steeply with age, and the reversionary bonus rate differs with the PPT. A 50-year old policyholder will pay much higher risk cover charges every year than a 35-year old. The impact of it is that the 50-year old policyholder will have much lower returns at the end of policy term than the 35-year old. But the benefit illustration does not reflect this. Moreover, recently declared LIC bonus rates have Jeevan Anand PPT less than 11 years, giving a bonus of Rs37 per thousand sum assured (PTSA), Rs40 PTSA for PPT 11 to 15 years, Rs44 PTSA for PPT 16 to 20 years and Rs48 PTSA for PPT over 20 years.
A generic benefit illustration is not just worthless but is even prone to mis-selling. Existing traditional products are being phased out by the end of September. New traditional products approved by Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) will hit the market from October. The new guidelines have the requirement of customised benefit illustration: “All insurance products shall provide the prospective policyholder a customized benefit illustration, illustrating the guaranteed and non-guaranteed benefits at gross investment returns of 4% and 8% respectively and as specified by IRDA or Life Insurance Council from time to time. The corresponding net yield shall be demonstrated only with respect to gross investment return of 8% p.a. Such benefit illustration shall be signed by both the prospective policyholder and the intermediary and shall form part of the policy document.”
It means that from next month insurance companies can no longer give generic benefit illustrations for traditional products. Today, LIC has generic benefit illustrations for its traditional products. Some private insurers offer customised benefit illustrations with a few of them offering online customised benefit illustrations. According to one private insurer, “We offer customised benefit illustration for traditional products in most markets. It is difficult to implement it for rural markets. We have raised question to IRDA about difficulty with 100% compliance with the requirement. Ask me to do what I can implement.”
V Manickam, secretary general, Life Insurance Council, says, “Insurance companies will have to comply with the IRDA guidelines on customised benefit illustration. We have not heard from life insurers about difficulty in implementation. There is initiative of common service centers (CSCs) e-Governance Services India Ltd which should help with rural markets.”
Moneylife emailed to eight insurance companies including LIC asking the following questions –
There was no response from any of the insurers except one, who responded “No comments can be offered to your query. As a registered insurer in India, we are bound to follow the guidelines.”
It’s time insurance companies including LIC get proactive about offering transparency to customers. A Harvard Business School study shows that LIC agents have an incentive to recommend more expensive and less suitable products to consumers. The study suggests that the government-owned organisation does not encourage its sales agents to provide better advice and that government ownership does not appear to solve the problem of unsuitable advice.
Lackadaisical approach from some private insurers is also prevalent. Benefit illustrations of many old ULIPs were mis-leading. Agents would present deceptive benefit illustration, sanctioned by the Regulator to seal the deal. Moneylife had written about how one senior citizen relied on the misleading benefit illustration of HDFC Life Young Star product that conveniently ignored the steep mortality charges, which made up for 80% of the premium. The insurance company benefited by keeping the customer in the dark about how much part of the premium really goes towards mortality charges. It is certainly an ingenious way for a life insurance company as they benefit with hefty mortality charges due to higher age of the insured as well as from the expensive Waiver of Premium (WoP) feature. After all the other charges of premium allocation and policy administration charges are deducted, what goes into investment is negligible and hence the corpus after seven years was dismal. HDFC Life child plan sold to senior citizen erodes 96% of investment amount!
Bajaj Allianz Life sold old ULIP (Capital Unit Gain) to a consumer without obtaining his signature on the sales illustration, as mandated by IRDA. Moneylife intervention helped to solve a difficult case that even insurance ombudsman had refused to take up. Bajaj Allianz generously agreed to a settlement of Rs30,000. Bajaj Allianz Life refunds Rs30,000: Another Moneylife Helpline success