Health Ministry criticized over private expenditures
Budget to supplement health basket rises by only 28% though health taxes increased by 76%.
Deputy Health Minister Yaacov Litzman [file] Photo: JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
While health taxes paid by the public increased by 76 percent between 1997 and
2011, the Health Ministry’s budget to supplement the health basket rose during
that time by only 28%.
The huge gap, according to the Adva Center for
Information for Equality and Social Justice in Israel – which supplied the
statistics on Tuesday – explains the shortage of so many hospital beds, as well
as why patients who need psychiatric care wait for such long periods of
Adva executive director Barbara Swirski wrote the organization’s
report, titled “The State Does Not Take Care of Health.”
The report notes
that in 1997, the average household spent 3.8% of its monthly expenses on
health, compared to 5% in 2010; in that same year, the OECD average for
household expenditures on health was only 3.2%.
Much of the increase in
private health expenditures, wrote Swirski, was due to household payments for
supplementary health insurance from public and commercial insurers because
residents saw the shrinking of state healthcare services.
and 2011, private expenditures for healthcare rose by 475 percent, from NIS
23.50 to NIS 135.3 per month. The Adva Center document called on the government
to halt the process of healthcare privatization and instead strengthen the
public system. This can be achieved, it said, by setting an automatic 2% annual
increase in the health basket; prohibiting the sale of supplementary and
commercial health insurance for services that are considered vital or important
to health, and including them in the national health basket; and including
dental care for children and the elderly, and geriatric nursing and psychiatric
care in the basket.
Asked to comment, the Health Ministry spokeswoman
said that “the source of Adva’s data was in previous Health Ministry reports,
and there is nothing new in its data.” She maintained that the ministry was
“working in recent years to reduce the burden on the public by cancelling
well-baby clinic fees, adding children’s basic dental services to the basket,
reducing the cost of drugs and expanding public funding of hearing
The spokeswoman added that the ministry had made efforts to
increase the number of hospital beds (although none had yet been added) and
double the number of MRI scanners (although these were only approved by the
ministry, which stopped putting quotas on their use but did not provide all
hospitals with special funding to purchase them).