The parents of the newborn baby are stuck in limbo at Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital for an unpaid bill of nearly US$4,000. The pair have appealed to the public and media for help, claiming the hospital is holding their baby hostage.
It is common to hear about Indonesians from the low-income class being unable to pay hospital bills or not having any medical insurance to cover expenses. Stories about these people not getting admitted or getting turned away by different hospitals despite their immediate need for medical attention are widespread.
One married couple recently made claims that their newborn baby was being held at Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital (RSCM) in Senen, Central Jakarta, as they have yet to settle the hospital bill for the baby’s delivery.
On Monday, October 3, Boy Benny Nikujuluw and his wife Imelda Natalia Itayanti went to see Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama to lobby for assistance. Nikujuluw told reporters that RSCM is not allowing them to bring their baby home because they cannot pay the hospital bill of roughly US$4,000.
Nikujuluw explained that the baby was born prematurely on August 27. Itayanti was first taken to Rawamangun Hospital in East Jakarta when she had her contractions, but because of the hospital’s insufficient facilities for premature deliveries, she was transferred to Persahabatan Hospital. Unfortunately for the couple, Persahabatan turned out to be full at that time, and she was soon transferred to RSCM.
The father said he knew that premature birth at 33 weeks of pregnancy posed a risk for both his wife and their baby.
Despite the hullabaloo of transferring from one hospital to another, the baby was delivered safely. But the parents’ happiness was cut short when they received the medical bill. RSCM demanded that the invoice be settled on September 26.
The unemployed father tried to have the bill covered by the Healthcare and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan). The state-run medical plan, however, would not cover the expenses, as he only registered the baby for the plan after it was born.
Nikujuluw admitted it was mistake for not following the BPJS regulations. He explained that they were not aware that “a fetus with a heartbeat in the womb is already eligible for registration for BPJS.”
The couple managed to get Jakarta’s Social Agency to help guarantee their capacity to pay the hospital bill in installments. Unfortunately, RSCM demanded a US$770 down payment and did not accept the smaller amount of US$154, which the couple could barely come up with on the spot.
With the bill now running at Rp.800,000 (US$61) for every day past due, the couple claims to have run out of options, and are now asking for help from governor Ahok and City Hall. It’s unclear whether Ahok has met with the couple or whether any financial assistance has been extended.
This incident is reminiscent of the two-year-old boy being held by a hospital in Purwakarta, West Java, as the parents could not pay medical bills amounting to Rp5.5 million (US$420). Fortunately for the boy and his parents, Purwakarta’s regent decided to shoulder the bill for the release of the child.