An international team that studied Israel’s medical services after the country
became a member of the Organization for Economic and Development has stated in a
preliminary report that it became one of the best healthcare systems in the
world since the National Health Insurance Law went into effect in
The team, consisting of OECD and external experts, arrived a year
ago and visited the country’s five largest hospitals, community health fund
clinics in Jewish development towns and Arab villages, and a baby care center in
an unrecognized Beduin town in the Negev, also meeting with representatives of
patient rights organizations in the Arab and Ethiopian Jewish sectors and with
heads of professional medical groups.
With their work completed, the
final report will be published on November 26 when OECD officials will again
come to Israel to attend a conference on health systems and present their
findings in a press conference.
The government allocated health funding
at relatively low levels during years of tight cost control with relatively low
demand, attributed to a young and healthy population. Yet Israel made it
possible to build a high quality health system, the OECD said.
health system is considered especially good for its early diagnosis of chronic
diseases that prevents unnecessary hospitalization, the European experts
For example, diabetes has been diagnosed early, lowering the rate
of complications that would have required hospitalization compared to average
In addition, primary care in Israel benefited significantly
from the immigration of large numbers of doctors and nurses from the former
Soviet Union in the 1990s, the OECD said. But because these professionals are
beginning to retire, it is important for the country to ensure that young
doctors and nurses will choose primary care and be trained
While medical data from community health fund clinics are
assessed by the insurers, this trend should be expanded to monitor improvements
in care, the OECD team said. They also urged that hospitals be encouraged to
improve the quality of their treatment, and that hospital data must become more
accessible to health system professionals in the community.
there must be more competition on quality among health funds and providers of
care, they said.
Despite the high marks, there is a complex mix of gaps
in the health system between the rich and the poor, the center and the
periphery, and various ethnic groups, said the OECD. More equity and
accessibility will require additional efforts.
The OECD also bemoaned the
growing use of private medical care, which makes it harder for the economically
disadvantaged to enjoy the best healthcare.
Deputy Health Minister
Ya’acov Litzman welcomed the report for its praise of the system, adding that
those issues that were criticized must be improved.
“We will not
disregard these. I asked the [Health Ministry] director- general, Prof. Ronni
Gamzu, to present me a program for applying the recommendations in the report,”
Gamzu also expressed his satisfaction with the OECD conclusions
and promised to work toward repairing the faults that remain.