Despite opposition from some MKs and professional groups in the mental health
field, the Knesset Finance Committee on Monday decided that people who need
psychotherapy techniques not included among treatments at health fund mental-health clinics will have to pay partial out-of-pocket fees to independent
The proposal was requested by Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu, who is also formally the health minister.
The copayments will
be NIS 50 for the first appointment and NIS 120 for each subsequent treatment.
The copayment for group therapy will be NIS 55 per session. The rates will go
into effect on July 1, 2015, the same date that the health funds officially take
over mental health care from the Health Ministry.
At present, there are
no substantial fees, but queues for treatment are very long.
committee also decided that for a visit to a clinic psychiatrist, copayments
will be charged at the same rate as ordinary copayments for medical specialists
and be included in the arrangement, setting a maximum in copayments by family
members for each quarter.
Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, who
presented the request, said that the rates reflected those previously approved
for Maccabi Health Services. Outgoing ministry deputy director-general Dr. Yoel
Lipschitz, who supervises health funds and supplementary health insurance, told
the committee that the copayments involved only those made to independent
therapists and not those who work for the health fund. Copayments for mental
health care will be the same as those presently collected by specialist
physicians treating physical conditions.
But the decision did not please
everyone. Abarbanel Mental Health Center social worker Hanna Yitzhaki said that
the fees “create discrimination against patients needing psychotherapy. The
charge is per visit and not per quarter. It will be easier to give these
patients psychoactive medications that will drug them so they won’t have to pay
much more for talk therapy. They will avoid going for treatments.”
added that people with psychiatric problems usually don’t have the means to
finance their treatments.
“In countries where treatments are provided
privately, many troubled people live in the streets, and this is very harmful to
society,” Yizhaki said.
Mordechai Basson, representing families of
patients at Abarbanel, was furious about the new regulations and “other bad
decisions” in this field over the years.
“Permission for the health funds
to charge copayments [for outside therapists] is only a continuation of the
policy that harms psychiatric patients.”
Hanna Strum Cohen, the chairman
of the Psychologists and Social Workers Forum, complained that such the decision
was made so fast.
“These are high prices for those who won’t go to health
fund clinics. Has somebody checked how many such clinics there will be and their
locations? The rules will create an impossible situation for patients, many of
whom will forgo psychiatric treatment.”
Knesset Health Lobby chairman MK
Rachel Adatto (Kadima), who is a physician by profession, also voiced her
opposition to the charge of the copayments.
Finance Committee chairman
Moshe Gafni, of Litzman’s United Torah Judaism party, voiced his support for the
prime minister’s request, “which is supported by the deputy health minister,”
after Gafni said he checked with Health Ministry personnel.
copayment only for those who are referred to external therapists, and the state
will ensure there are enough psychotherapists for patients [at health fund
clinics],” he said.