Israeli health funds logo.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The four public health funds had a total deficit in 2015 of NIS 1.07 billion, compared to only NIS 382 million during the previous year. The Health Ministry, which unveiled the figures for publication on Thursday morning, said that the government decided for the first time to transfer NIS 420m. to the insurers to be included in their base budgets.
There was a significant increase of NIS 2.72b. in deficits, due to lack of state subsidies, compared to NIS 2.49b. in 2014.
This, said the ministry, was due to the significant rise in Maccabi Health Services’ “breaking of its budget” that disqualified the second-largest health fund from getting state support.
Asked to comment, a Maccabi spokesman told The Jerusalem Post that the “government cuts the health budget more severely every year. Maccabi invests and will continue to invest in developing the health services of its members.”
He warned that all health fund deficits will become even larger in 2016 because of gaps between the per diem cost of hospitalization paid to medical centers and the health cost index. In 2017, said the spokesman, the deficit will grow even more because of the new “cap” law that will transfer hundreds of millions of shekels from the insurers to the hospitals. “The state runs away from its responsibility to budget the health system properly,” he said. “Instead it just shifts the too-small blanket from side to side.”
The ministry also decided to update the health cost index to help the health funds cover their expenses. The ministry said the government is now holding discussions with Maccabi to reduce its deficit and stabilize its financial situation.
The health funds’ income from their members (from drug copayments, various medical services and doctors’ home visits) has continued to decline, to only 6.52% of the cost of the basket of health services, compared to 6.68% in the previous year.
The decline, said the ministry, results partially from the full exemption from payment for Holocaust survivors, and lower copayments due to the transfer of responsibility for psychiatric services from the ministry to the health funds.
Clalit Health Services’ deficit rose from NIS 523m. in 2014 to NIS 575m. in 2015. Maccabi’s moved from a NIS 124m. surplus in 2014 to a deficit of NIS 462m. last year.
The third-largest health fund, Meuhedet Health Services, had a deficit of NIS 23m. in 2015 compared to a surplus of NIS 5m. the previous year.
The smallest health fund, Leumit Health Services, reduced its deficit the most, from NIS 12m. in 2014 to NIS 6m. last year.
The total cost of the basket of health service to the insurers was NIS 41.2b. in 2015, a nominal increase of 6.8% from 2014.
All the health funds had much less cash at their disposal, the ministry said, because of the amount of advance payments that the government made to them and problems in payments to suppliers.