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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
People who are dissatisfied with their health fund will soon be able to switch to another one not once a year but twice.
This will be made possible by a bill approved for its second and third readings by the Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee on Monday.
In addition, there will be six deadlines during the year, instead of the current four, by which one can change memberships by filling out a form at the post office.
The Treasury budgets division official in charge of health, Raviv Sobel, said the change - part of the Economic Arrangements Bill that accompanies the state budget - would increase competition among the health funds and make them more willing to cater to their members. Only a small number of Israeli residents - about 1.5 percent - change funds each year, said a Health Ministry representative.
The Health Ministry supports the Finance Ministry initiative.
But MKs Rachel Adato (Kadima) and Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) voted against the proposal, saying that it was "part of the Treasury's zeal to create competition, and unnecessary, as the vast majority of Israelis are happy with their health insurer." It will also lead to expensive and superfluous advertising campaigns by the health funds to win over new members, they argued. In a past effort to win over new members, one health fund illegally offered a shuttle in taxis of their members to hospitals, and the funding came at the expense of other needs.
However, committee chairman MK Haim Katz (Likud) and a majority of members voted in favor, and it will go to the plenum for its final readings.