Free Health For South Sumatra
This year South Sumatra became the first province in Indonesia to provide its citizens with free public healthcare.
Alex Noerdin delivered on his promise of free healthcare to coincide with his incumbency as governor of the South Sumatra province.
On January 22nd the Berobat Gratis, (free healthcare), scheme began, filling the gaps between the 48% of people previously covered by Jamkesmas and another 52% of people now covered by Jamkesta.
However, for the first year only 40-50% of uninsured residents will be covered by the Jamkesta scheme.
Dr Alsen, a surgeon at Rumah Sakit Muhammad Hoesin, (Muhammad Hoesin Hospital), said that so far the program for public healthcare has been successful and that they have been busier with patients since it was implemented.
“This is a new program in our country. Every person in South Sumatra can get Puskesmas, (primary care), and go to the hospital. We can do every operation in here. All diseases. We work harder because the amount of patients is higher, but it is ok.”
Dr Alsen said that the government and governor are using their principles in spreading the cost for health, but it is up to the government to make sure citizens know about the new services and how to access them.
“We have conditions for Berobat Gratis. Patients must make a referral first. They have to come to primary healthcare first. Patients have to have permission to come to the hospital, from their general practitioner. If the patient has a cold or influenza they have to go to the small practice first. But if they go to a private practice they will still have to pay. Some people don’t understand about that,” he said.
Some are confused about the ‘free’ provisions and arrive at the hospital for specialist treatments instead of first going to a primary care, or a general practitioner for a referral to a specialist.
Patients must use their identity card to access free healthcare, which states that they live in South Sumatra.
Currently, health providers receive a salary from the government, rather than having patients paying costs then claiming rebates.
Dr Alsen expects other places in Indonesia to also follow suit, but concedes it’s a matter of provincial governments to allocate funding to health.
“Because this is a good program, some provinces in Indonesia will also follow. They can compare studies with this province. Bali, Jakarta, East Java. Already about twelve provinces will start. They too will learn how to implement Berobat Gratis,” Dr Alsen said.
Last year Mr Noerdin said that the public already have the right to free services, and that funding was split 70-30 between provincial and regional administrations, but it was just a matter of commencing programs.
“By implementing the programs, we can reduce the public burden so that citizens can spend the money on other necessities,” he said.
Dr Alsen, Surgeon at Rumah Sakit Muhammad Hoesin
The Jakarta Post, article, S. Sumatra Government Promises Free Education, Healthcare, Nov. 2008