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Indonesia New Health Care Scheme Battles Over Crowding, Leaves One-Week Old Baby Dead

Update Date: May 19, 2013 08:30 PM EDT

Indonesia introduced a pilot health insurance scheme in November last year which gave millions who previously were not covered, access to health care. As a result, hospitals have experienced staggering growth they are unable to satisfy.

In one incident, parents of a sick one-year old baby with respiratory issues were rejected at ten different hospitals in Jakarta as they were all over-crowded. The baby tragically died after not getting the medical attention she urgently required.

The incident sparked an outcry in local media. Some editorials said the pilot scheme had been implemented too hastily without properly equipping hospitals for the anticipated increase in patients.

Under the scheme, the poor are eligible for free or subsidized hospital care. Previously, patients without insurance had to pay for treatment on the spot, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, the new health insurance scheme has been vehemently denied byJakarta governor Joko Widodo and the Indonesian health minister. Widodo said thousands of people in Jakarta had been dying at home because the lack of insurance stopped them seeking medical treatment in the first place.

"If we did not start in November, there would be 500,000 people sick, but at home," Widodo told Reuters during a recent interview.

According to the report, Indonesia began the initial insurance roll-out begins in January, with the aim to cover all Indonesians by 2019 from the 52 percent who currently have some form of insurance.

It aims to incorporate various public healthcare schemes into one. The plan is to offer free or subsidized coverage to 86.4 million poor and so-called "near poor" Indonesians in 2014, 10 million more than who are covered now. Around 35 million Indonesians who get health insurance from employers, the military and police will also be included.

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