(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Professional soldiers will have to wait indefinitely to get healthcare from public health funds, despite promises that the arrangement would begin on January 1.
The shortage of IDF physicians at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, the huge Tel Hashomer military facility and bases around the country has aroused many complaints among both professional and enlisted soldiers about the quality of examination and treatment.
Until a few years ago, professional soldiers at the Kiryat and Tel Hashomer were able to choose a health fund and get care quickly and near their homes (most of them go home every day). But this arrangement was canceled, leaving soldiers very dissatisfied.
When soldiers are sick over the weekend or when away from their bases, they usually turn to the clinics of the private company Bikur-Rofeh, but soldiers have for years complained about the service, even though the IDF Spokesman said it had improved.
Since then, the IDF has said that all professional soldiers, and not just those in Tel Aviv and Tel Hashomer, would be able to get examinations and treatment from a health fund. Late last year, the IDF Spokesman told The Jerusalem Post
that it would take “a few months” for the health fund arrangement to be implemented.
But the Israel Hayom
daily reported on Wednesday that due to “fighting over payments” between the Defense and Health ministries over funding, the change was not implemented on time, and no date was given for when it would be carried out.
The paper also said that as a result of the delays, the access to medical treatment for enlisted soldiers would decline, and queues would be longer.
The Health Ministry declined to comment on Thursday on whether it was locked in a dispute with the Defense Ministry over the plan, how much money was involved, whether it endorsed the plan, or if the health funds, which it supervises, were prepared to carry it out. The Health Ministry spokesman’s office suggested contacting the Defense Ministry.
In a terse reply and disregarding all questions from the Post on details, the Defense Ministry spokesman said that it and the Health Ministry “are in the midst of negotiations and team work” regarding the matter “so as to examine the process of transferring professional soldiers to the health funds. This has to be done in a way that the financial condition of the insurers will be preserved and that meets the demands of the IDF, including the matter of budget.”