Parents claim hospital is holding their newborn baby over unpaid Rp 51.8 million bill

There are many low-income citizens of Jakarta who can’t afford to pay for hospital bills or don’t have medical insurance, and we often hear stories about these people getting turned away by various hospitals in the capital despite their dire need for medical attention.

Now another harrowing tale has emerged, this time from a couple who claims that their newborn child is being held at the Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital (RSCM) in Senen, Central Jakarta, because they are unable to pay the bills for the baby’s delivery.

Boy Benny Nikujuluw (31) and his wife Imelda Natalia Itayanti (30) went to the Jakarta City Hall yesterday hoping to be able to see Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama to tell him about their recent troubles. To reporters, Boy said that they’re not allowed to bring their baby home from RSCM because they owe the hospital Rp 51.8 million in hospital bills.

Boy explained that the baby was born prematurely on August 27. When Imelda had contractions, Boy first took her to Rawamangun Hospital in East Jakarta. But after the hospital said they had insufficient facilities to deliver their baby, Imelda was transferred to Persahabatan Hospital, which was full, before being transferred to RSCM.

“[Premature birth] at 33 weeks pregnancy posed a huge risk. We went to Persahabatan Hospital, but the ICU was full. In the end we went to RSCM,” Boy said, as quoted by Warta Kota yesterday.

After the run-around, the baby was, thankfully, delivered safely. However, Boy and Imelda were shocked to receive a bill of Rp 51.8 million from RSCM, which was due on September 26.

Boy, who is unemployed, tried to have the bill covered by the Healthcare and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan), but he said that the state-run medical plan wouldn’t cover the costs because he only registered the baby for the plan after its birth.

“I admit, I was wrong because I didn’t follow new BPJS regulations. I only put my child on BPJS after birth. So we can’t use it (BPJS). We didn’t know that if a fetus has a heartbeat in the womb, it’s already eligible for BPJS,” Boy said.

Boy said they also managed to get a recommendation from Jakarta’s Social Agency guaranteeing that the couple would be able to pay the hospital bill in installments. But he said the hospital still refused to hand over the baby when Boy said they were only able to pay Rp 1-2 million as a down payment. The hospital instead demanded Rp 10 million in down payment before they would release the baby.

Running out of options and with the bill accumulating Rp 800,000 for every day past the payment due date, Boy and Imelda sought Ahok’s help at City Hall yesterday. So far there are no reports yet of whether or not Ahok has met with the couple, but we hope that he, or anybody else who reads this story, can help them bring their baby home.

This is unfortunately far from the first case in Indonesia of a hospital holding to a child over unpaid hospital bills. In July of this year, a hospital in Purwakarta, West Java, wouldn’t release a 2-year-old boy because his parents couldn’t pay an outstanding bill of Rp 5.5 million, which prompted Purwakarta’s regent to pay for the bill out of his own pocket.

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