Sunday, February 19, 2012

Health Insured and Health Ensured

Aviel Yelinek

Since the entry into force of the National Health Insurance Law in 1994, Israel’s residents have the right to register with one of the state’s Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO, in Hebrew – Kupat Holim, “sick fund”), which include a variety of healthcare services and medicines as designated and periodically updated by the Ministry of Health in its “basket” of healthcare services. This “basket” defines which healthcare services and medicines must be provided by the HMO to all of its insured members. The insurance is funded by means of a healthcare tax based on a percentage of the monthly income of every employee. Health insurance does not cover all of the medicines or treatments available through modern medicine. For this reason the HMOs themselves, as well as private companies, offer supplementary insurance aimed at partial or complete coverage for treatments and medicines that are not included in the “basket” of healthcare services.

According to the Social Survey of the Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2010 a total of 76% of Israel’s residents had supplementary health insurance from one of the HMOs. The percentage of Jerusalemites with supplementary insurance was 60%, which was significantly lower than the figure for residents of Tel Aviv (88%), Rishon LeZion (87%), and Haifa (83%). The data also indicates that 41% of Israelis had disability insurance as well through one of the HMOs. The percentage of Jerusalemites with disability insurance was only 21%, which was significantly lower than the figure for residents of Tel Aviv (59%), Rishon LeZion (47%), and Haifa (45%). The percentage of individuals with disability insurance rises as the age of the insured population rises, and therefore, the low percentage of Jerusalem’s disability-insured population is most likely a result of the city’s high percentage of children under the age of 18.

Interestingly, 28% of Israelis had private health insurance outside the framework of the HMOs. The percentage of Jerusalemites with private health insurance was only 18%, which was lower than the figure for residents of Rishon LeZion (41%), Haifa (35%), and Tel Aviv (32%).


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