SBY Plants Seed for Universal Health Care in Indonesia
Arientha Primanita & Dessy Sagita
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has called for an initial fund of Rp 25 trillion ($2.6 billion) for a new social security scheme aimed at providing universal health coverage in 2014.
Speaking at the opening of a meeting with officials at the Health Ministry on Wednesday, Yudhoyono said the large sum needed for the Social Security Organizing Body Health Unit (BPJS Kesehatan) was justifiable because it would ensure health coverage for all citizens nationwide.
“The people want to have a sense of security. They want calm in their lives,” he said. “Certainty in terms of health care it is important, especially for the underprivileged.”
The president added that the government has a “moral obligation” to help the poor get access to health services, which he argued the BPJS Kesehatan would provide.
BPJS Kesehatan is a unit of the BPJS, which will go into operation at the start of 2014 to provide health insurance and work-related welfare to all Indonesians and expatriates who have worked in the country for at least six months. The funds for the health and work programs will be managed separately.
The BPJS was designed to combine Jamkesmas, which offers health insurance for the poor, with other insurance schemes.
At least 117 million Indonesians will be covered by the new insurer, including domestic workers and contract-based laborers who lack health insurance. All Indonesians should be covered by 2019.
The body is mandated under the National Social Security (SJSN) Law passed last year, which requires all insurance and pension schemes for workers to be managed by one entity.
Chazali H. Situmorang, chairman of the National Social Security Council (DJSN), predicted there would be an increase in the number of people seeking health care once the BPJS Kesehatan scheme began operating in 2014.
He warned that unless the government provided sufficient funding for its health infrastructure, it could be overwhelmed by the response. “We only have a limited number of community health centers, and the government is reportedly only allocating Rp 1 trillion for health facilities in 2013, so how far will that get us?” Chazali said.
He called for the government to persuade the private sector to build more hospitals in under-served regions of the country. “We don’t need any more hospitals in Jakarta. There are already too many as it is,” Chazali said. “Regional governments should provide land to investors to build hospitals. They should also send more doctors and health workers to remote areas.”