December 6, 2018 / 7:28 AM / 6 months ago

Indonesia to inject $357 mln into state health insurer

JAKARTA, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Indonesia will inject more capital into cash-strapped state health insurer BPJS Kesehatan this month, a senior finance ministry official said on Thursday, although questions remain on how to ensure the firm no longer operates at a loss.

The world’s fourth most populous country introduced universal health coverage in 2014, but BPJS Kesehatan, which covers around 200 million people, has consistently posted deficits, with claims paid out far exceeding premiums collected.

Some hospitals have complained of delayed payments from BPJS hurting both their cashflow and their relationship with pharmaceutical distributors.

Vice Finance Minister Mardiasmo told Reuters a total of 5.2 trillion rupiah ($357.27 million) will be provided for BPJS in stages until Dec. 14.

The government has already injected 4.9 trillion rupiah of capital into BPJS in September to avoid defaults, but the firm requested more help two months later, saying it needs to repay a total of 7.2 trillion rupiah of debts.

The government appears to have room to provide the extra capital, as Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati was quoted by the office of the cabinet secretary as saying revenue collection in 2018 was set to exceed target.

This year’s fiscal deficit will likely reach 1.86 percent of GDP, below an initial estimate of 2.19 percent, she was quoted as saying. ($1 = 14,555 rupiah) (Reporting by Maikel Jefriando Writing by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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