Navigating the Israeli Healthcare System: A Comprehensive Guide
Every Israeli resident is assured healthcare coverage under the National Health Insurance Law, secured through monthly premium payments to the National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi). For newcomers, such as New Olim, Ktinim Chozrim, and Ezrachim Olim, who are not actively employed, there's a generous offer of up to six months of complimentary health insurance for basic coverage. Once this grace period concludes, it's incumbent upon all citizens, including those over the age of 18 and excluding actively serving soldiers, to contribute.
Israel's unique healthcare landscape empowers every resident to select one of four health plans: Clalit, Leumit, Maccabi, or Meuhedet, irrespective of their age or pre-existing health conditions. These health plans furnish identical basic services, as mandated by law, which span doctor visits, diagnostics, hospitalization (including maternity care), and prescription drug discounts. Nonetheless, it's imperative to acknowledge that the basket of services doesn't encompass every conceivable medical treatment, procedure, or prescription. To bridge this gap, supplementary insurance (Bituach Mashlim) is on offer, which can extend coverage to include dental and optical care. It's worth noting that supplementary insurance isn't a complimentary service and its scope varies depending on your chosen Kupat Cholim (Health Plan). Details about costs can be found on the websites of the respective Kuppot or through the Ministry of Health's online comparison tool, although the comparison resource is presently available only in Hebrew. To make an informed decision, it's wise to network with others within your age group and community to understand which Kuppah is the preferred choice, the availability of English-speaking medical professionals, and the array of services provided.
Presently, registering for health coverage can be completed at the airport upon arrival. However, there's no obligation to register immediately. It's advisable to conduct thorough research to identify the healthcare provider that best aligns with your needs and those of your family in your new locale. Accessibility and proximity to healthcare facilities should not be underestimated. If you're uncertain about which plan to opt for, there will be an opportunity to register at your local post office in your city. Following registration, a visit to your neighborhood clinic is in order to receive your temporary membership card. During this visit, you can explore the possibility of enrolling in supplemental insurance.
Although basic medications are part of the healthcare services basket, the Ministry of Health prescribes specific conditions regarding medication distribution. To gain insights into available medications listed under the Ministry of Health's purview, the Ministry's website is a valuable resource. Nevertheless, this should be viewed as a guide rather than the definitive word on medication availability. It's recommended to carry a three-month supply of your prescribed medication or the allotment specified by your present health plan. Additionally, it's prudent to furnish a medical summary to present to your new physician in Israel, as understanding the management of your condition within the Israeli healthcare system is a crucial aspect of pre-Aliyah research. To learn more about importing medications from abroad, you can refer to this resource.
For a deeper understanding of navigating the Israeli healthcare system, consider exploring The Shira Pransky Project. Established to assist English-speaking medical patients in Israel, this initiative facilitates accessibility to rights, benefits, and support through education and advocacy.
Israel's healthcare system stands out for offering high-quality care to its members. In Israel, the distinction between the public healthcare system and private health insurance isn't predicated on the quality of care but on the range of amenities available. Private insurance unlocks access to additional comforts during hospital stays, such as internet and television access, and even enhanced dining options.
This section endeavors to provide an overview of the Israeli healthcare system. Universal healthcare is the norm, with all Israelis obliged to enroll in the public scheme. The process of finding a doctor or dentist is simplified thanks to an online database of licensed medical practitioners provided by the Ministry of Health.
If childbirth is on your horizon during your time in Israel, it's imperative to ensure that you are covered by health insurance, whether through your employer or a personal plan. Failure to secure adequate coverage may result in substantial costs, reaching up to 15,000 ILS (4,286 USD) for a C-section delivery, for non-residents without a valid visa or insurance.
The Israeli healthcare system, as a whole, is universal, with every Israeli obligated to participate in it. However, the public system does not extend its coverage to all medical services. Israelis can enhance their medical coverage by purchasing private health insurance or supplementary insurance from one of the four health funds in the country. This supplementary coverage encompasses services not included in the public scheme, such as dental and optical plans.
Key Facts about Healthcare in Israel:
All Israeli residents possess the fundamental right to healthcare.
The healthcare system is founded on the National Health Insurance Law of 1995.
Israelis can augment their medical coverage with private health insurance or supplementary insurance.
Israel ranks high in life expectancy, overall health, and has a low infant mortality rate.
Bloomberg's Global Health Index (2019) placed Israel as the 10th healthiest country in the world out of 169.
Israel boasts one of the most technologically advanced, high-quality, and efficient healthcare systems globally.
Hospitals are equipped with cutting-edge medical technology and staffed by highly educated and trained medical professionals.
The Doctor's Channel YouTube channel, sanctioned by the Israeli Ministry of Health, endeavors to make medical information more accessible to the public.
Is there Free Public Healthcare in Israel?
Yes, and all Israeli residents must be a part of one of the country's four official health organizations: Clalit, Leumit, Maccabi, or Meuhedet. These organizations operate as not-for-profit entities and are legally prohibited from denying any Israeli resident membership.
What Does Public Healthcare Cover?
Each of the four official health organizations provides a standardized list of health services, including:
Medical diagnosis and treatment (including for drug and alcohol abuse)
Family and preventative medicine
Hospitalization (general, maternity, psychiatric, and chronic)
Surgery (including elective surgery)
Medical equipment and appliances
First aid and transport to medical facilities
Obstetrics and fertility treatment
Medications (including some for severe illnesses) approved by the National Health Basket (updated annually)
Treatment of chronic diseases and paramedical services
Physiotherapy and occupational therapy
IVF treatments for the first two children up to the age of 45 and abortions
Israel's Healthcare System Unveiled:
How does healthcare function in Israel? Regardless of the organization chosen from the four available, individuals have the liberty to select their preferred doctors and specialists within the network. Each organization maintains its own medical facilities. While members retain the flexibility to switch between organizations, this can only be done once a year, and on specific dates.
If you're a newcomer from abroad, who has relocated to Israel under the Law of Return and are currently unemployed, you may be entitled to a year of health insurance coverage, with a few exceptions. In other scenarios, if you're a new immigrant in need of health services but haven't registered with one of the organizations yet, you can apply for coverage through the Public Ombudsman of the Ministry of Health.
Israel's Healthcare Costs:
The Israeli healthcare system is primarily funded through taxes and government allocations. Employees and the self-employed contribute 3.1% of their income to sustain the healthcare system, up to a maximum of 5,804 ILS (1,648 USD). Employers automatically deduct these contributions from their employees' salaries, while self-employed individuals need to make arrangements for payments themselves. Pensioners' contributions are subtracted from their pension, and individuals receiving unemployment benefits also make dues. In contrast, the government's funding accounts for 60% of the healthcare system, which is lower than the average of OECD countries (72%).
Pros and Cons of Israel's Healthcare System:
Israel extends a universal, efficient, and high-quality healthcare system to its residents.
The country boasts state-of-the-art and technologically advanced medical facilities.
High life expectancy and low infant mortality rates are emblematic of Israel's healthcare excellence.
The nation counts some of the world's finest doctors and medical professionals among its ranks.
Taxpayers bear minimal costs for their healthcare system.
The Doctor's Channel YouTube channel features over 75 leading physicians and 17 hospitals, participating voluntarily to make medical information accessible. Videos are in Hebrew with English subtitles.
Israel allocates fewer funds to healthcare compared to other OECD countries.
Chronic shortages of nurses, hospital beds, and diagnostic equipment like MRIs and CTs persist.
Prolonged wait times are prevalent for hospital care and emergency room services.
The nation faces a looming shortage of physicians due to impending retirements.
Private healthcare expenditures in Israel are higher than OECD and US averages.
Breast cancer mortality rates in Israel are elevated compared to Turkey and the OECD average.
Heart disease and cancer account for two-thirds of deaths.
Organ transplant donations are insufficient, and the budget for patients seeking surgery abroad falls short, resulting in approximately 100 annual deaths while awaiting approval for overseas procedures.
An In-Depth Look at Private Health Insurance:
How does private health insurance operate? Israel boasts one of the world's highest rates of private health insurance ownership. These private health insurance premiums, commonly referred to as supplementary insurance, are accessible through each of the four compulsory health funds in the public system.
Premiums are stratified according to age, gender, and medical history, partitioned into specified age brackets. Private health insurance can encompass an expansive array of services, including extensive surgery options, therapies, medications, overseas travel coverage, private specialist consultations, non-invasive treatments, and dental and optical plans.
Some noteworthy examples encompass:
Elective surgery, with participants able to select their surgeon, anesthetist, and hospital within Israel or internationally.
Transplants, where unlimited funding is made available to secure a donor and perform the procedure without necessitating government approval.
Private Hospitals and Clinics:
Private hospitals and clinics dispense care that aligns with the quality standards of the public system. The discernible difference lies in the additional amenities extended by private hospitals to patients, such as television and internet access, luxurious private rooms resembling hotel accommodations, gourmet-quality cuisine, and supplementary beds for overnight guests.
However, it's crucial to be mindful of certain downsides associated with private health insurance in Israel. Private health insurance policies generally exclude pre-existing medical conditions. In specific circumstances, and for an added premium, they might extend coverage. Another factor to bear in mind is the 90-day waiting period before coverage commences. This waiting period serves a dual purpose as a trial period; any conditions that manifest during this timeframe are considered pre-existing and are thus excluded from coverage. C-sections entail a year-long waiting or trial period.
Is Health Insurance in Israel a Necessity?
No, health insurance in Israel is not compulsory. The necessity hinges entirely on your personal requirements and financial circumstances. Should you opt for supplementary insurance from your health fund, they cannot refuse coverage to anyone or discriminate against individuals with pre-existing conditions.
Types of Health Insurance Plans:
When it comes to health insurance plans, both individual and group policies are available. Long-term care insurance is another option, with most plans falling into one of three levels. The lowest level covers essentials such as transplants (up to a certain limit) and emergency surgeries within Israel or abroad. The middle tier broadens coverage to include an array of emergency services not encompassed by the public system and select quality-of-life treatments. The highest tier extends to cover a more comprehensive spectrum of emergencies, illnesses, and even incentives (sometimes exceeding the coverage amount).
Private health insurance options encompass:
Kupat Cholim Clalit / Mashlim Chul, providing Toshavim Chozrim, tourists, and students with health coverage, including pregnancy but excluding hospitalization or childbirth.
Darconaim: Maccabi Health Fund, offering Toshavim Chozrim, tourists, and students health coverage, including pregnancy but excluding hospitalization or childbirth.
Meuhedet plan for foreign residents, extending health coverage to Toshavim Chozrim, tourists, and students.
Shiloach insurance, offering health coverage to tourists and students.
American Israel Medi-Plan (AIM), constituting a private medical program staffed by American doctors and medical professionals.
Common medical policies encompass:
Ambulatory coverage for preventative medicine, check-ups, CTs, and MR
Israel's healthcare system ensures that all residents have access to quality care, although private insurance can enhance amenities. Despite facing challenges like shortages and waiting times, Israel's healthcare system continues to provide high-quality medical services.