The Jakarta Post
A middle-class resident of Serang, Banten, Sinta, 41, had spent almost all of her family's savings and deposits to pay for her mother-in-law's hemodialysis treatment since 2012.
Her mother-in-law had to receive the treatment twice a week, with each treatment costing at least Rp 900,000 (US$72.9) at a private hospital in Tangerang, Banten.
'Even thinking about the expenses still gives me goose bumps,' she told The Jakarta Post while accompanying her mother-in-law to Siloam General Hospital in Lippo Karawaci, Tangerang, recently.
But her worries disappeared in early 2014 when the central government launched the national healthcare program, the JKN, which offers different healthcare schemes to citizens. Underprivileged citizens do not have to pay the monthly premium while the middle class and above may register for the paid scheme.
'We signed up right away and registered my mother-in-law for the Class I type which means we have to pay Rp 59,500 per month in premiums,' she said.
Sinta has not had to pay out millions for haemodialysis treatments ever since.
'It's such a relief,' she said.
Natalia Turangan, 30, a Jakarta-based digital strategist, shared her experience when her father, a Bogor resident, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and was recommended to undergo surgery.
'When my father told his children about it I was very nervous. I did have savings for my father's health but I didn't think they would be adequate to cover all of the expenses,' she said. The doctor who recommended the surgery later encouraged her father to sign up for the JKN national healthcare program. Natalia's father immediately followed the suggestion.
The registration for Class I type membership was finalized within a day on a Friday in August and the next Monday Natalia's father had to go to the nearest community health center (Puskesmas) and then to the Bogor Public Hospital to process a referral letter to the Dharmais Cancer Hospital in West Jakarta, where he would undergo the surgery.
He also needed a referral letter from the Bogor office of the Social Security Management Agency (BPJS) as the surgery would be conducted in a different province.
'After an assessment on my father was completed and the surgery was approved by the BPJS, we waited three weeks for a vacant bed to be able to check in,' she recalled.
Despite the relatively long bureaucratic process ' because every step needed approval ' Natalia said she was grateful as her family did not have to pay anything for the surgery, which could have cost tens of millions of rupiah.
A similar sentiment was shared by West Jakarta resident Yessy Rianti, 37, a recipient of the premium support (PBI) scheme, for citizens freed from paying the healthcare premium.
Yessy has enjoyed the benefit of the healthcare program since then Jakarta governor Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo introduced the Jakarta Health Card (KJS) in late 2012. The KJS was applied in Jakarta about a year prior to the JKN national program as a pilot project for low-income citizens.
Yessy used the scheme when her month-old baby was in a coma and had to be treated at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) facilities for a month in Tarakan Regional Hospital in Central Jakarta. She later used the JKN healthcare scheme for her mother, who has been treated for diabetes and cardiovascular disease at the same
'The treatment for my baby would have required at least Rp 100 million but I did not spend any money because the healthcare covered it all. I am very grateful,' she said.
Another user, Bekasi resident Teguh Santosa, pointed out that, 'the procedure was indeed long and involved a number of 'check points' but it was quite clear. When compared to the benefit that we get, it is worth it.'