Jakarta – The government plans to provide subsidies for the third class service of national health insurance (JKN) following widespread criticism the recently announced premium hikes would disproportionately affect low-income participants.
Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto said the government was considering a scheme to help participants whose premiums had been fully subsidized by the government (PBI) as well as participants of the non-wage recipients scheme (PBPU).
"We are still discussing ways to assist PBPU participants so those in the third-class scheme will not feel the effects of the premium hike," Terawan said as quoted by Antara.
The minister said he planned to meet with a number of relevant ministers to discuss the subsidy plan.
"The hike will affect the first and second classes, while the third class will be subsidized," he said, adding that his office was calculating the costs of the scheme.
The premium increase for the JKN, which is managed by the Health Care and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan), has been met with criticism from JKN participants, observers and lawmakers since President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo signed the corresponding presidential regulation.
The regulation doubles the premium for the first-class service to Rp 160,000 (US$11) per month per person, and more than doubles the premium for the second-class service from Rp 51,000 to Rp 110,000.
The premium for the third-class service – which includes coverage of fully subsidized low-income participants – was increased 64 percent from Rp 25,500 per person per month to Rp 42,000. The new premiums will come into effect in January.
The premium hikes are intended to help address the massive deficit incurred by BPJS Kesehatan. The agency recorded a Rp 16.5 trillion (US$1.17 billion) deficit in 2018, which it blamed on low premiums. (gis)