Israelis healthier than those in OECD countries

Israel has higher life expectancy than group average, but residents pay more out of pocket for healthcare.

May 11, 2010 05:40
2 minute read.

NOECD generic 311. (photo credit: NCourtesy)

The life expectancy of Israelis is higher than the OECD average, the population is younger, and health expenditures as part of the Gross Domestic Product are lower, according to a document released by the Health Ministry on Monday.

However, compared to other OECD nations, Israel has a much lower rate of hospital beds and of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, it added.

The ministry issued the document to mark Israel’s joining the prestigious group of countries.

Dr. Tuvia Horev, ministry deputy director-general for economics and health insurance, said that starting in July, the OECD would include Israeli health data in its comparative reports on an ongoing basis.

“The data show that Israelis have better health than the average in member countries, while the infrastructures are relatively smaller,” he said. But there are danger signals – as the share of out-of-pocket expenses for health services is steadily increasing compared to public expenditures for health, and the rate of working physicians in the population is steadily declining, Horev added.

The growing share of co-payments, he continued, was liable to reduce accessibility to health care for the socioeconomically weaker elements in the population.

People over 65 make up 9.8 percent of the population, compared to the OECD average of 14.7%. The rate of children under the age of 14 in the national population is 28.4% compared to an OECD average of only 17.7%. This makes Israel a relatively young country, but it puts more of a financial burden on Israelis aged 14 to 65.

The life expectancy of the Israeli man averages 78.8 years, compared to the OECD average of 76.2; for women, it is 82.5 compared to 81.8, respectively. Infant mortality rates are 4.1 per 1,000 live births in Israel, which is lower than in the US, Canada and the UK, but higher than in Germany and France, Horev said.

However, except for Mexico, there is no OECD country with a lower rate of hospital beds: Israel has two beds per 1,000 residents, compared to the OECD average of 3.8.

Today, the rate of physicians is higher than the OECD average, but according to forecasts, that rate is due to drop significantly below average as many doctors – especially previous immigrants from the former Soviet Union – retire and the OECD average rises. The Israeli rate of nurses is already lower than the OECD average, which is rising.

The rate of Israeli dentists, 1.08 per 1,000, is second-highest in the OECD, compared to the average of 0.62.

Only 7.7% of Israel’s GDP is spent on healthcare, compared to the OECD average of 9%. Perhaps one of the most worrying statistics is that residents pay for 43% of all health expenditures, as opposed to the OECD average of only 27%.

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