Israel has a well-developed infrastructure of medical and paramedical services, as well as research and bioengineering capacities.
The health-care system provides extensive medical coverage through a network comprising hospitals, clinics and mother-and-child care centers. The high quality of medical care is reflected in the life expectancy of 79.1 for women and 75.3 for men, and an infant mortality rate of 7.5 per 1000 live births.
The National Health Insurance Law, in effect since January 1995, sets forth the state's responsibility to provide health services for all residents of the country (not including tourists). Until the introduction of this law, the majority of residents had been insured by one of four comprehensive health-care organizations; the law stipulates that a standardized basket of medical services (including hospitalization), will continue to be supplied by those health-care organizations.
Provisions of the law
- Every resident must register as a member with one of the health-care organizations.
- The health-care organizations may not bar applicants on any ground, including age or state of health.
- Residents who had been insured with one of these organizations before the law came into effect, will continue to be members of that organization.
- Residents who had not been insured prior to the law taking effect, are assigned to a health-care organization by the Ministry of Health. After a period of six months they may transfer to another organization of their choice.
- Spouses may each register in a different organization. Children under 18 belong to the organization of the parent who is receiving child benefits from the National Insurance Institute.
- Israeli citizens who have been living abroad for more than five years and have not spent more than 90 days in Israel must renew registration with a health-care organization upon their return to Israel.
- New immigrants must register with a health-care organization upon arrival in the country. They will be exempt from payment during their first year in Israel.
- Any person registered for at least one year with one of the health-care organizations, may transfer to another organization.
- The law accords equal status to all four health-care organizations.
Health Care Services The health care organizations are required to supply all the services enumerated in the standardized basket, within reasonable time and distance from the insured persons homes; they include:
- Medical diagnosis and treatment both at clinics and at the home of the patient.
- Preventive medicine and health education (i.e. early diagnosis of embryo abnormalities, vaccinations, counseling for pregnant women, mothers and the elderly).
- Hospitalization (general, maternity, psychiatric and chronic).
- Surgery and transplant. If medical treatment is not available in Israel, treatment abroad will be covered.
- Preventive dental care for children.
- First Aid and transportation to a clinic or hospital.
- Medical services at the workplace.
- Medical treatment for drug abuse and alcoholism.
- Medical equipment and appliances.
- Obstetrics and fertility treatment.
- Treatment of injuries caused by violence.
- Medication, in accordance with a list issued by the Ministry of Health.
- Treatment of chronic diseases.
- Paramedical services (i.e. physical therapy, occupational therapy, etc.).
The sources for funding include:
- Health insurance premiums paid by each resident
- Parallel-tax payments by employers and self-employed persons
- National Insurance Institute funds
- Funds from the Ministry of Health budget
- Consumer participation payments
Payment of health insurance premiums is compulsory. The National Insurance Institute collects health insurance premiums in the same way it collects national insurance premiums.
Employees will have the premium deducted by their employer. Self-employed persons will remit them directly to the National Insurance Institute.
The collection of health insurance premiums is progressive: low-income earners pay less and high-income earners pay more. When both spouses are employed, they pay separate insurance premiums.
The maximum income for purposes of health insurance premiums is four times the average wage, that of minimum income is one quarter of the average wage.
Employers and self-employed persons pay 3.1% of the portion of the salary which is equal to half of the average wage, and 4.8% of the rest of the salary (up to a maximum of four times the average wage).
Workers who receive retirement pensions or benefits from the National Insurance Institute, or from the Ministries of Defense or Finance, pay health insurance premiums only on their income from work (the pensions and benefits are exempt from payment).
Persons who receive old-age pensions pay a premium of 2% of the average wage. Those receiving pensions prior to retirement age pay a premium of 4.8% of half the amount of their pension.
The government may augment, but not diminish medical services under the National Health Insurance Law, unless authorized to do so by the Knesset Committee on Labor and Social Affairs.
The health-care organization may offer supplementary insurance to cover medical services that are not included in the basic-services basket. The premium must be equal for all members of a given organization, except for nursing services, for which payment according to the age of the insured may be charged.
The Ministry of Health will supervise the equality and availability of the medical services supplied by the health-care organizations, who are also required to submit quarterly financial statements which are open to public scrutiny. A public complaints office will also function in the Ministry of Health.