The National Health Insurance (JKN) programme of Indonesia will start from January 1, 2014, marking a milestone in the country’s social welfare with the aim of creating more equitable development for the poor and low income earners.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said at the launch ceremony that this is the biggest ever leap that has been taken by Indonesia since its independence.

From now on, the poor could get treatment free of charge at community health centres (Puskesmas) and hospitals, he said, adding that in the first step, the programme will benefit 121 million people or 48 percent of the Indonesian population.

In the second stage, starting from January 1, 2019, it is hoped that health insurance will cover all Indonesian people, the President said.

Firstly, around 86.4 million people will be considered eligible for premium payment assistance of 19,225 Rp (1.57 USD) per individual per month. The Government has deducted a total of 19.3 trillion Rp from the State budget to do this.

The premium for informal workers and retirees ranges from 25,500 Rp per month for third-class medical services to 59,500 Rp for first-class medical services, with at least three-month payment in advance.

For formal workers in the private sector, the premium is 5 percent of their monthly income.

The Government decided that as from 2015, employers will pay 4 percent of it and employees will be responsible for the rest.-VNA