The Jakarta administration has appointed six hospitals to provide free health care for the poor, who were previously only eligible for 50 percent discounts.
Dien Emawati, the head of the Jakarta Health Office, said on Tuesday that those eligible for free health care must possess an SKTM — a letter attesting to their financial condition — issued by the head of their urban ward and approved by subdistrict authorities.
“This means that while previously the holders of that document could only be eligible for price discounts, under the new policy they will no longer need to spend any money to get health services,” Dien said.
She identified the participating hospitals as Tarakan Hospital in Central Jakarta, Pasar Rebo, Duren Sawit and Budi Asih in East Jakarta, Cengkareng in West Jakarta and Koja in North Jakarta. All are city-owned general hospitals.
Dien said the new policy was adopted following complaints from SKTM holders that despite being in possession of the document, they were often charged high costs when seeking medical treatment.
There are 1.43 million registered SKTM holders in Jakarta. The health office said more than 360,000 people sought medical care under the reduced-price scheme in 2011, up from fewer than 130,000 in 2007.
Dien said the new policy went into effect at the start of July.
The free treatment for the poor is part of a wider health care campaign that will also see the health office provide free ambulance services for all residents who have proof of residency from neighborhood and urban ward authorities.
Another program under the campaign is free hospitalization in third-class wards for those older than 60, religious leaders and volunteer workers in the city’s dengue fever monitoring program.
Sugiyanta, a spokesman for the Jakarta administration, said there were around 560,000 people older than 60 with a permanent KTP identity card who would be eligible for free hospitalization.
“As for the religious leaders, we are providing them with free hospitalization as a show of our gratitude for their role in the community and in the development of Jakarta,” he said.
He added that the religious leaders and the volunteer dengue monitors, known as jumantik , needed to hold a Jakarta KTP and have worked in their respective fields for at least five years in order to qualify for the free hospitalization.
Sugiyanta said 88 public and private hospitals across the city would participate in the program.
The announcement of the free services comes as Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo prepares for a runoff vote in September against Solo Mayor Joko Widodo. Although he has long pledged free health care for the poor, Fauzi’s proposed programs have never before mentioned religious figures, who are seen as influential in canvassing votes in their communities.