State-owned insurance companies in Indonesia are bracing for the rollout of what will be the world's largest healthcare scheme, meaning better access to health services for millions of Indonesians who previously could not afford them.
File photo: A patient receives medical attention at a hospital in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. (AFP/Bay Ismoyo)
JARKARTA: State-owned insurance companies in Indonesia are bracing for the rollout of what will be the world's largest healthcare scheme, meaning better access to health services for millions of Indonesians who previously could not afford them. Roughly a third of Indonesia's population lives under the poverty line and has no or very little access to healthcare. A new healthcare scheme to take effect on January 1 will provide millions of the poor with free healthcare, including treatment for major health conditions and chronic diseases. "One time my child was treated in a hospital for three days and the bill was so expensive. If we are covered by the healthcare insurance scheme, I'd be happy because it means free medical treatment," said Munah, a patient. The new healthcare system is designed as a cross subsidy scheme. Professor Hasbullah Thabrany, chairman of the centre for health economics and policy studies, said: "The higher income will pay a nominally higher contribution because the percentage is about the same. Lower income will pay a nominally lower contribution, but when it comes to the benefit, (both groups) will get the same medical benefit. “So by this design, the rich can share to the poor, the healthy can share to the sick and the young will also share to the old people." Five per cent of each person's salary will go to the insurance premium while the poor will be given free health insurance. A new umbrella agency called the Social Security Organising Body will manage the health coverage for Indonesians already subscribed to the various state insurance schemes. The agency will be quasi-public and aims to get rid of bureaucratic red tape and late insurance claim payments that plague the current healthcare system. It will have an estimated 117 million subscribers to begin with and will gradually cover all Indonesians by 2019. The scheme will also insure domestic workers and contract-based workers who currently do not qualify for workers' insurance. In anticipation of an influx of people seeking free healthcare at hospitals in the next two years, the Jakarta administration is also stepping up its health services. "In Jakarta there's a policy that will take effect in 2015 which requires all local health clinics in the district level to have medical wards. Right now not all of the city's health clinics have wards," said Health Clinic head Dr Dyah Eko. The new health scheme is a mammoth project -- in the first stage, it will cover 86 million uninsured citizens who are considered poor, which is twice the number compared to uninsured Americans covered under Obama's new Affordable Care Act. However, experts acknowledge that the current state subsidies for the poor are still not enough and that efforts are being made to increase state subsidies for the poor to better suit average market medical costs.