'Hospitalisation costs 17% less than OECD average'

Health Ministry says statistic proves "strength of our public health system"; prices still higher than average.

August 2, 2012 05:48
1 minute read.
Dr. Ronni Gamzu

RonniGamzu311. (photo credit: Sourasky Medical Center)

Hospitalization costs in Israel’s public medical centers are 17 percent lower than the average rates in Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development countries – even though prices in general here are higher than the OECD average, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

This statistic, part of a project that the OECD is carrying out to identify gaps in hospital price levels among member countries, proves that Israel’s “health system is efficient,” said ministry director- general Prof. Ronni Gamzu.

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“This proves the strength of our public health system, which succeeds in functioning at relatively low cost while at the same time being among the leading OECD countries in the health condition of its population,” he said.

Gamzu added that he did not believe the health system could become more efficient (that is, do the same with less money) under the current per-diem system.

“The stress has to be on continuing the trend of hospital rates according to the type of procedure or disease [diagnosis- related groups, or DRGs],” instead of the health funds paying a per-diem rate, according to the number of days the patients are hospitalized, he said.

Hospitals have an incentive to keep patients in the wards longer to earn more from the per-diem system, while it is more efficient for them to be paid according to the procedure and receive a flat rate.

Gamzu, a former director of Ichilov Hospital at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, said he believed that by using DRGs more, efficiency of the system could continue to improve.

Earlier this week, Dr. Leonid Eidelman, chairman of the Israel Medical Association, and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel stated that Israel’s health system was in a NIS 9 billion deficit to provide a minimum of decent healthcare.

In the past, leading health economists and public experts have explained the gap between the low share of the GDP spent on healthcare here and the relatively high health statistics – at least partially – by considering a variety of factors, including nearby family support, short distances to reach hospitals, genes, relatively low consumption of alcohol, education levels, circumcision and even levels of religious observance.

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