The Jakarta Post
Participants of the national health insurance (JKN) program will still need to pay their recently increased premiums in full as the Health Care and Social Security Agency (BPJS) scrambles to formulate a follow-up regulation following a Supreme Court ruling that overturned the premium increases.
The company will eventually lower its premiums once the plan is settled and will return the excess payments to participants, BPJS Kesehatan spokesman M. Iqbal Anas Maruf said.
The state-owned insurance agency is drafting a plan for JKN participants to obtain their premium overpayments that had been disbursed throughout this year. However, he said the company had not yet decided when the premiums would return to normal. The agency was also determining whether it would repay the excess payments from January, when the new premiums were implemented, or in March when the insurer received the court ruling.
“But according to our plan, those overpayments will be credited to JKN participants’ BPJS Kesehatan accounts, so they might not have to pay premiums in the following month,” Iqbal told The Jakarta Post on Thursday. “So, the public doesn’t have to worry as we will comply with the Supreme Court’s decision.”
The court rejected the premium hikes in late February, ruling in favor of the petitioners, individuals grouped under the Hemodialysis Patients Community, which filed a judicial review against the premium increases they deemed too high.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo signed a presidential regulation on healthcare security last year that stipulated an increase in BPJS premiums starting January this year. The move was expected to help the insurer overcome financial losses that had been dragging down the company.
The government doubled the premium for first-class services to Rp 160,000 (US$9.69) per month per person, while more than doubling the premium for second-class services from Rp 51,000 to Rp 110,000.
The premium for third-class services was increased 64 percent from Rp 25,500 per month to Rp 42,000.
As the ruling is deemed inviolable, the government and BPJS Kesehatan are obliged to lower all premiums to their initial values before the hike was effective.
However, Iqbal said both the government and the agency could not lower JKN premiums right away if the government had yet to issue another regulation to replace the revoked presidential regulation.
“We have reviewed the court ruling and have been coordinating with the State Secretariat to issue a new regulation for the premiums. It’s all being processed,” he added.
Timboel Siregar, advocacy coordinator at state insurance watchdog BPJS Watch, lambasted the government and the agency for not expediting the issuance of the new regulation.
He also said reducing JKN premiums was crucial as it could alleviate financial difficulties endured by the participants -- especially informal workers -- due to the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
Despite facing a financial hit, the participants were still obliged to pay JKN premiums each month. Otherwise, their participation in the insurance scheme would be terminated.
“After the regulation is issued, those who are less fortunate should not have to pay premiums this month as they can pay them with overpayment credits. Therefore, they can reallocate this month’s JKN budget to buy basic needs such as groceries and medicine during this crisis,” he added.