When moving to Israel for Aliyah, one of the first things a person should do is look into medical care. The way healthcare works in this country is with a national socialized system, which involves 5% of a person’s paycheck to go into a pool. Now, for the individual who is unemployed, each family member would cost NIS 60. However, new immigrants are given a six-month grace period but also, there is never a cost for children.
In addition, standard healthcare services are free although on occasion, a person may be required to pay a nominal deductible. Then, for services not covered under the basic healthcare basket, people can purchase supplemental insurance. In this case, the law for Israel, known as the National Health insurance law ensures “4 health funds” are added to the basket for each person living in this country, regardless of past/present health, age, or even country of origin. This means unlike western countries, pre-existing conditions in Israel are covered.
As far as care Israel is quite modern, providing excellent service while using state-of-the art equipment and supplies. Because of this, when it comes to countries with high life expectancies, Israel is rated at number three, which is actually much better than the United States. This status applies to both genders and best of all infant mortality rates are extremely low. Now, while medical care in Israel is excellent and while most hospitals and clinics are outstanding, some are still behind the times when it comes to modernized equipment and some are in disrepair.
4 Health Funds
People in Israel are provided with “4 health funds”, which are provided by the government, with each for a different system. When a person comes to Israel, a requirement to join a fund in the first week may be mandatory. However, once the fund is chosen, the individual would have the opportunity to change but only if he/she has been in the current fund for a minimum of six months and during the period for enrollment.
Along with these rules, the health fund for Israel can be changed twice annually but a request must be made 90 days prior to the official date allowed to include January and July 1. For this, people would take their ID card to the post office and a list of any family members. Of course, the head of the household and family can be on different funds. However, to change the fund for a spouse, his/her ID would also be required, as well as a letter granting permission. The cost for the change is NIS 10 for each person being changed.
Because each of the funds is based on a different philosophy, it would be important for the person to understand what all it covers. Then, a hospital and/or clinic in the desired area would be chosen, with most people choosing those close to home. For the employed person, if coverage for medical care were not taken from the paycheck, it would be necessary to visit a Bitauch Leumi – National Insurance office for registration, as well as the health tax to be paid.
For four funds offered include Kupot Holim Clalit, Macabbi Health Services, Mehuhedet, and Leumit. The first two are the primary choices. Of the four, Kupot Holim Clalit is not only the largest but also the biggest. This fund works like an HMO, meaning limitations would exist for choosing a doctor, clinic, hospital, and pharmacy. Of all hospitals in Israel, this fund owns and operates approximately 40%. Typically, the level of care is exceptional.
For people moving to Israel from westernized countries, most find this particular fund difficult to handle. The reason is that the doctor has the last say and wait time for appointments is long. On the positive side, this fund offers the most comprehensive healthcare system in the country. Now, if a person lived in an area deemed
“out of the way”, and the only local clinic was Clalit, that clinic would become the default choice.
Most people from westernized countries going to Israel prefer the Macabbi Health Services fund. All hospitals and clinics are operated with independent doctors and people would have a much broader selection of healthcare professionals and facilities.
Supplemental Medical Coverage
Depending on the fund chosen, some allow supplemental coverage but a one-year waiting period applies. For this reason, many people will enroll in supplemental coverage prior to changing the fund. Now, for the person who has supplemental coverage for the existing fund, it would be important to make sure when changing the fund that the extra coverage had also been cancelled. If this is not done, money would still be withdrawn from the person’s bank account and getting a refund takes months.
One challenge in Israel is that obtaining a copy of a person’s medical records is tough for doctors and hospitals. This is why it is always recommended that anyone moving to Israel maintain an original copy, specifically if being treated for a condition. This way, a copy of the records could be provided to doctors and hospitals.
When a person has supplemental coverage, several services not covered by the basket would be included, except for nursing care. To receive approval, several factors would be included such as the person’s age, current health, and country of origin. Each person in the family applying for supplemental coverage would be reviewed and each would need to go through the wait period. Some of the things this type of coverage covers includes vaccinations, private surgery, care after major surgery, transplants, special procedures to preserve life, although not offered Israel, well care checkups, and discounts on dental care.
Typically, the cost of extra care is not covered 100% and approval for coverage would be required by management first. In Israel, approximately 70% of people have some type of supplemental insurance.
Private insurance is also available in Israel, which is not considered as supplemental coverage for the funds. To purchase this type of insurance, an individual would need to purchase it through an insurance company. For options, several exist and once insurance has been purchased, it is guaranteed. Of all coverage types, most people choose a comprehensive plan so the full cost of surgery would be paid. Some people also prefer worldwide coverage, meaning surgery would be paid for if performed in another state.
As with westernized insurance, private insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions. For this reason, it would be wise to take out a policy while healthy. Today, it is estimated that 30% of the population in Israel has this type of insurance.
For baby care, a separate outside the funds is offered, which provides children with examinations, immunizations, and pre-natal care to the mother. The cost for this type of insurance is only NIS 20 per month and unlike other countries, if parents fail to show up for an appointment, the doctor, or clinic would offer ongoing reminders. Unfortunately, baby care overall is sub-standard and in fact, doctors in the country are known for being dramatic about variations to standards. In fact, if a child were on the lower or upper end of the growth chart, in this country it would warrant a trip to the emergency room.