Only six months after its inception, the Jakarta Health Card (KJS) program came up against yet another hurdle when 16 of the 92 state and private hospitals participating in the healthcare program threatened to pull out of it last week due to losses incurred from covering the medical costs of patients.
The threat did not materialize, however, as several days later 14 of the hospitals renewed their commitment to the program after the city administration pledged to revise the program and its financing.
The program, which provides Jakarta residents, in particular the poor, with equal access to healthcare, faced its first test just three months after its launch when overwhelmed hospitals denied admission to an ailing child due to a lack of equipment. The child eventually died, fueling public rage and criticism of the program.
Indeed, there have been complaints from doctors and hospitals about the program, which was introduced by Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to fulfill one of his campaign promises to provide free healthcare for all.
Jokowi’s political rivals may deem the KJS unrealistic and we have to recognize that the governor needs to take the criticism into account for the sake of improvement.
All the harsh words, however, do not and should not justify any move to terminate the healthcare program.
The KJS program is designed to support 4.7 million Jakarta residents, 1.2 million of whom are entitled to national health insurance (Jamkesnas) while the remaining 3.5 million have been left uninsured. The Jakarta Health Agency has thus far recorded 2 million eligible beneficiaries.
Health services are available at community health centers (Puskemas), city-owned or appointed private hospitals upon presentation of an ID card.
The Jakarta administration has earmarked Rp 1.2 trillion (US$123.24 million) for the healthcare program this year alone. The fund is managed by state-owned insurance company PT Askes, which was appointed as the implementing agency under the Social Security Providers (BPJS) Law for the health sector as of Jan. 1, 2014 as mandated by the 2004 National Social Security System (SJSN) Law.
Problems facing the healthcare program are not unusual, just as nothing under the sky is perfect. But technical matters in the implementation of the program should not overshadow the advantage it can afford millions of people. Poor people, who were previously reluctant to seek medical treatment due to the cost, now have the opportunity to visit a doctor, which means there is hope for Jakarta to improve its people’s standard of health and, hence, the city’s human development index.
“Jokowicare” may not match “Obamacare” in terms of political ramifications marking their policy making, but the two equally speak volumes of government/state responsibility for the well-being of its people and solidarity among citizens. That’s why we couldn’t agree more with the KJS.