‘Israelis living longer, but health system will have problems coping’

Some 800 physicians – most of them immigrants from the former Soviet Union – are expected to retire each year in the near future.

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January 31, 2017 00:29
2 minute read.
Health Minister MK Ya’acov Litzman at Magen David Adom conference, December 28, 2015

Health Minister MK Ya’acov Litzman at Magen David Adom conference, December 28, 2015. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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For every day that passes, life expectancy in Israel grows by five hours, according to data to be presented to a Health Ministry/ National Insurance Institute conference on aging and the health system near Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

Before the conference, Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman said the aging of the population has significant effects for which the ministry must carefully prepare. Ministry director- general Moshe Bar Siman Tov added that the growth rate of the elderly population will triple or quadruple in coming years. Construction of geriatric institutions and training geriatricians – which takes 12 years – requires a lot of financial investment, he said.

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A report to be discussed at the conference includes the following data: In 25 years, the number of Israelis over the age of 75 will double from 410,000 to 811,000.

In 2025, that number will rise by 30,000 a year, compared to 5,000 to 10,000 in recent years.

Since 2005, life expectancy for men has risen from 78.2 to 80.1 years, and for women, from 82.2 to 84.1 years. Once a man reaches 80, he can reasonably expect to live to 89.

Women of 80 years may expect to live until 90.

While the four public health funds have received compensation from health taxes for the growth in population, they not received anything for the aging of the population.



Public medical expenditure for those over 75 years of age averages NIS 23,000 per person per year, compared to NIS 5,500 for the general population.

Those over 65 visit medical clinics 22 times a year, compared to eight visits for a younger person.

The cost of medications for an over-65 averages NIS 1,700, compared to NIS 650 for a younger person. Those over 65 constitute 11% of the population, but 45% of hospitalization costs. Fully 34% of those aged 65 to 74 are overweight, while 30% suffer from diabetes, compared to 10% of younger people.

Some 800 physicians – most of them immigrants from the former Soviet Union – are expected to retire each year in the near future.

The number of hospital beds in Israel is among the lowest in the OECD, and there is a growing shortage in geriatric beds; facilities for 1,000 more such beds must be built. A total of 200,000 Israelis are recognized as being dependent on geriatric nursing care. The number of foreigners taking care of them, today 50,000, is due to double in 20 years.

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