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Most Israelis have supplemental health insurance
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
17/12/2012
Health Ministry says Arab citizens are significantly less likely to purchase extra coverage.
 
Of the 7,757,000 Israelis who are members of the four public health funds, some 5,689,000 of them also held supplementary health insurance policies from their insurer in 2011, according to a new Health Ministry report issued Sunday.

For the first time, the annual report calculated how many Arabs hold supplementary health insurance, which makes it possible for members to choose their surgeon; get extra tests not covered in the regular basket of health services if pregnant; and get a second medical opinion and additional services – but does not provide lifesaving medications unavailable in the regular basket.

The authors of the report – Revital Topper Haver-Tov, acting director of the department that supervises the health fund, and private accountant Dafna Ravid-Barzily – said 73 percent of the general public hold supplementary health insurance. However, the percentage of Israeli Arabs who have supplementary health insurance is only 40%, compared to 60% of people who receive old-age pensions with income supplements or disability allowances from the National Insurance Institute.

According to the report, the purchase of supplementary health insurance – which is offered by the health funds in two levels, one more expensive than the other – is growing from year to year. Clalit Heath Services, the largest health fund insuring a little over half of the population, sold 17% more supplementary health insurance in 2011 compared to 2010. Maccabi Health Fund, the second largest, had only a 3% increase over the same period, compared to 6% in Meuhedet and 4% in Leumit.

Clalit’s supplementary health insurance packages are called Mushlam and Platinum; those of Maccabi and Leumit are Kesef and Zahav; and Meuhedet’s are Adif and Si.

However, Maccabi showed a major deficit in its supplementary health insurance packages – NIS 60 million compared to only NIS 21 million in 2010, while the other three health funds all had surpluses of millions of shekels.

Given the deficit in Maccabi’s supplementary packages, that health fund was allowed to raise its prices and reduce its benefits, but the deficit continued to grow. According to regulations, health funds’ supplementary plans should have balanced budgets. Average income to the health funds from a single policy ranged from NIS 549 annually for a Clalit member to NIS 578 for a Leumit member.

The four health funds earned a total of NIS 3.15 billion from their supplementary health insurance in 2011.
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