Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Here are some excerpts from "The US Health Care Debate" editorial in yesterday’s Jerusalem Post:

As Israelis observe Americans debate universal healthcare, we find ourselves struck by the fact that our little country is actually more advanced than the US in providing all residents with medical coverage. But we take no pleasure in the realization that political discourse in the US has sometimes deteriorated to the crude levels too often seen in Israel.

……WE DO not presume to tell Americans how to proceed. We can only point to our own experience which demonstrates - albeit on a smaller scale - that universal coverage is workable.

However, there is no doubt that Israelis sacrifice a level of privacy that Americans enjoy. For instance, medical records in Israeli health funds are computerized, and their confidentiality is hardly airtight.

Visiting a family doctor here tends to be a no-frills affair. Care is generally of a high standard, but there are no stylish offices or solicitous receptionists. You hand the physician your magnetic card; there's a minimum of small talk; you're treated and quickly out the door.

Israelis belong to one of four health funds, equivalent to HMOs: Clalit, Maccabi, Meuhedet and Leumit. Your GP does not oversee your care during hospitalization. There may be a wait for elective procedures.

But hospitalizations and medications are fully covered, though most people also purchase supplementary health insurance from their health fund and some take out additional private insurance coverage.

Everyone is covered. We pay for it all through individual sliding-scale health taxes deducted from our salaries and transferred to the health funds via the National Insurance Institute.

It may well be that a modified version of our system could work well in the American setting.

No comments: