Academic poll shows greater satisfaction with health system

90% of Israelis happy with coverage from public insurers.

By
March 16, 2010 22:35
3 minute read.
Deputy Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman.

litzman 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )

 
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Public satisfaction with the health system in general and the public health funds in particular has increased over the last two years, according to a survey of nearly 2,000 Israeli adults from around the country carried out at the end of 2009.

The study, conducted for the Health Ministry every two years over the last 16, was the work of Dr. Shuli Brammli-Greenberg, Prof. Revital Gross, Yifat Yair and Eyal Akiva of Jerusalem’s Myers-JDC Brookdale Institute. It was presented to health reporters Tuesday in the office of Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, who has been in charge of the ministry for the past year.

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The poll did not assess public satisfaction with the ministry itself or with Litzman, who has been a controversial figure since taking office.

The results, presented by institute director Dr. Jack Habib and Brammli-Greenberg, showed that 69 percent of the interviewees were satisfied or very satisfied with the health system, compared to 63% in 2007. By comparison, 90% of them said they were satisfied or very satisfied in general with their health funds, which provide basic health coverage to every Israeli resident under the National Health Insurance Law passed in 1994.

Nevertheless, 11% of the low-income respondents said the health system had to be “completely rebuilt.”

The four health insurers were pleased with the public satisfaction statistics, which showed all of them on the rise. Fully 38% of Kupat Holim Leumit members were very satisfied and 91% satisfied or very satisfied, compared to a figure of 86% two years ago. This was considered an achievement for Leumit, which is the smallest health fund and has often been the one in a deficit.

The satisfied or very satisfied comprised 93% of members in Maccabi Health Services (second-largest) and 92% in Kupat Holim Meuhedet (third-largest), compared to 88% in Clalit Health Services.

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However, Brammli-Greenberg noted that members still had complaints about the time it took to see a specialist: 42% said they had to wait up to a week, 17% between seven and 14 days, and 41% more than two weeks. The queue for primary care physicians at clinics declined, with the majority of members in the waiting room for less than 15 minutes.

Preventive medicine has gotten a boost, with 70% of women over 50 getting a mammography during the last two years, compared to 66% in 2007. A majority of members said their blood pressure had been tested during the previous half-year.

But there were gripes about the cost of out-of-pocket copayments for prescription drugs or certain medical services. Twenty-four percent said in 2009 that these were a burden, compared to 22% two years ago. The rate was 35% among both low-income respondents and the chronically ill. Fourteen percent had to forgo medical care in 2009 due to the costs of copayments, compared to 12% in 2007. When asked the same question about dental care, which is not in the basket of health services, 28% said they hadn’t gone for for dental treatment because they couldn’t afford it at least once in 2009.

Eighty-three percent of the respondents said they had gone to a primary care physician during the past year; 14% complained that he or she had not explained their condition or treatment properly. Arabs and new immigrants are consistently happier and more grateful for their medical treatment than others.

Litzman said he planned to continue making surprise visits to emergency rooms, perhaps even before Pessah. He added that he had plans for new programs to improve healthcare and accessibility among Israeli Arabs.

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