Jakarta. Indonesia’s Social Security Management Agency for health is still performing far below expectations, more than a month after its establishment, with the uniform occurrence of three problems: lack of drug supplies in remote areas, a low number of hospitals joining the program, and unpaid claims from regional governments made by hospitals.
Okky Asokawati, a member of the House of Representatives’ Commission IX, overseeing health and welfare, explained the details of these hurdles after evaluating the rollout of the health program implemented by the agency, or BPJS.
Before the agency’s Jan. 1 start, patients were prescribed drugs that would last them a period of 30 days, compared to the drastically cut, seven-day period given after the BPJS came into existence.
Though Okky was confident that patients in large cities, such as Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya, would face no difficulties refilling their prescriptions, she expressed concern for those who in remote areas, far from hospitals or pharmacies.
The government said it would follow up on the problem and return to the previous 30-day system.
Purnawarman Basundoro, director of the BPJS Health program, has revealed multiple complaints from National Health Insurance (JKN) holders over the problem involving medicine supplies.
“There have been many complaints about drug supply services, especially for chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and chemotherapy,” he said at his office on Feb. 2.
In addition to the fact that many private hospitals have refused to join the BPJS, the number of registered hospitals in big cities far outweighs those in rural areas.
The severe lack of detailed promotion about the new scheme is partly to blame for the low number of private hospitals signing up for the new system, with many saying they were never fully informed of the process.
“We need to constantly raise awareness of the program to prevent more patients from being neglected,” Okky said.
Another prominent problem saw a large number of hospitals rejecting patients for unclear reasons. A recent case reportedly involved an elderly man named Suparman, 75, who was stranded by the side of the road and left to die by a hospital in Lampung province.
The city-run medical institution allegedly said it refused to take care of mentally ill patients.
Government hospitals are expected to take full responsibility for the safety of any patients coming through their doors as alternative care — privately run hospitals — have yet to join the BPJS network.
Okky called on the Health Ministry to investigate the incident in Lampung and to punish those found guilty of any wrongdoing.
She also raised the issue of spiraling state hospital debts, which have reached Rp 1.8 trillion ($153 million).
She said the Finance Ministry had promised to perform an official debt audit and hoped the matter would be resolved before this year’s state budget meeting.
Around 86.4 million residents have received Premium Payment Assistance (PBI) from the government since the BPJS scheme came into force on Jan. 1 this year, out of approximately 110 million eligible for the program.