A recent study has found that the ambitious universal health-care system is actually stimulating the country’s economy significantly, contributing up to Rp 18.62 trillion (US$1.3 billion).
The JKN program is often seen as a source of financial burden for the government, with the Health Care and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan) struggling to find ways to make the program sustainable.
“We see that there’s actually a positive economic impact of the program, of at least US$1.3 billion,” Indonesian Business Data Center (PDBI) consulting services director Jeffrey Bahar told a press conference in Central Jakarta on Tuesday.
The study, conducted in 2015 by the PDBI, used data from various government institutions throughout 2014 to measure the direct economic impact of the JKN program.
The direct economic impact is seen in four areas — health services, human resources, construction of hospitals and medicines — Jeffrey said.
“As for health services, we measure it by looking at the number of people who didn’t have access to health services [before the JKN program started in 2014]. After one year of implementation of the program, the income of the health services sector increased by Rp 4.4 trillion as more people could get medical treatment,” he said.
BPJS Kesehatan spokesperson Irfan Humaidi said on Tuesday the health services sector would grow even further as the agency sought to increase the number of JKN participants in coming years and eventually provide universal health coverage to all citizens by 2019. “There will be a shift [from out-of-pocket expenses for health services to expenses paid by the government through the JKN program]; 45 percent of people who paid for medical services out of their own pockets [before the JKN program] will turn to the JKN program and that percentage will decline,” he said.
Furthermore, the JKN program also increased demand for doctors and nurses, the report showed.
“We calculated that there was an increase in demand for doctors and nurses by at least 50,000. We then multiplied that number by their salaries per year and we got a contribution of Rp 4.2 trillion,” said Jeffrey.
The number of hospitals also increased as JKN patients flocked to hospitals, the research showed.
“The increase in the number of new hospitals in 2014 is about 35 percent. Before the JKN program started, the number of hospitals already increased by 200 per year. But with the program, the increase is even more significant, with most new hospitals being those owned by the private sector,” Jeffrey said.