Health Ministry: Private health insurers mislead public

Director General's letter to treasury accuses that private insurance companies falsely claim they can’t get lifesaving drugs without private policies.

June 3, 2010 03:22
1 minute read.
Dr. Ronni Gamzu

RonniGamzu311. (photo credit: Sourasky Medical Center)

The Health Ministry’s new director-general, Dr. Ronni Gamzu, charged in a unusual letter to the Treasury’s official in charge of insurance, Prof. Oded Sarig, that private insurance companies are deliberately trying to “scare and mislead” the public by falsely claiming they can’t get any lifesaving drugs without taking out private policies.

Gamzu demanded that the Treasury halt the advertisements immediately.

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Gamzu said that the insurance companies’ “aggressive” campaigns on TV, the radio and other media has tried to push the message that the Health Ministry has “consistently been eliminating lifesaving medications from the basket of health technologies that are covered by the public health funds.”

This, the insurance companies claim, endangers the public’s health, leaves the citizen helpless and allows only the wealthy to get the medications they need. Thus, the private companies argue, the only alternative is for people to purchase private insurance policies for medications.

Some of the messages used by an insurance company are: “Your family’s health is not worth NIS 19.5 [a month]?”; “You don’t have coverage for lifesaving drugs?”; and “Our solution ensures that at a reasonable price, your whole family can have peace of mind and be sure that if you need it, you can enjoy comprehensive drug coverage.”

Gamzu declared that some of these advertisements are “outright lies.”

As an example, he cited the claim that the ministry has, on an ongoing basis, been removing drugs from the basket. But since the National Health Insurance Law went into effect in 1995, the ministry has not removed a single medication from the basket, the director-general said.

“The basket of medical technologies is one of the most comprehensive in the world. In the last three years, some NIS 1.3 billion worth of medications and other medical technologies have been added to the basket,” said Gamzu.

These ads “aim to manipulate the public and induce them to buy private health insurance,” the director-general concluded.

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