In 2014, Indonesia launched the much-awaited National Health Insurance (NHI) to provide universal health coverage to an estimated 250 million inhabitants by 2019, thus becoming one of the largest social health insurance globally. In the first year of implementation, NHI has exposed many issues that deserve urgent attention related to the complexity of the scheme as well as to pre-existing health system failures. This article focuses on the particularly challenging conditions of health human resources. It is argued that NHI magnifies chronic deficiencies in availability, performance and accountability of health workers and highlights the urgency of finally addressing them, if NHI is to deliver on the promises of accessibility, equity and improved health outcomes. Quality improvement efforts need to be intensified and current reforms need to be linked to NHI, so that the workforce can serve as the critical pathway to achieve universal health coverage.