Health Minister Yael German 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy Knesset)
The Association of Civil Rights in Israel and the Physicians for Human
Rights-Israel presented to Health Minister Yael German Wednesday a position
paper for combatting the “creeping privatization and commercialization” of the
public health system.
The suggestions were meant as input for the
committee on bolstering the public system that German heads and is supposed to
produce recommendations in a few months.
The two liberal organizations,
ACRI and PHR-I, stated that the public health system has “advantages over the
private one, both economic and egalitarian.”
The suggestions, the
organizations said, “would make it possible for patients to benefit from the
advantages of private healthcare, but without paying anything extra.”
two voluntary bodies said that “creeping privatization and commercialization” of
the public health system has been occurring in recent years. The result, they
said, is that the public has lost faith in the public system. Money from health
taxes and other public resources are flowing into the pockets of private
companies; however, the amount of out-of-pocket expenditures in both systems has
been increasing, while the economically disadvantaged are getting less
In the nine-page position paper, the organizations demanded a
correction of the budgetary erosion of the public system. Supplementary health
insurance policies held by 80 percent of the public through their own health
funds must be integrated into the public basket of health services and turn into
a progressive health tax.
Consequently, all patients could choose their
own surgeon or specialist to receive a second opinion.
They added that
the harmful links between the public and private systems must be cut, especially
by severing the health fund from their private subsidiaries.
contracts must make it possible for doctors to earn decent salaries in the
public systems alone, without having to moonlight in private clinics and
hospitals, the position paper said.
They presented the Canadian model for
full-time physicians who can work for a public hospital only if they commit
themselves to a full-time job there without working a second job
Patients in the public system, the paper continued, would be
allowed to choose their doctor, consultant for a second opinion or a surgeon
with full transparency; those selected would get extra pay.
program to shorten lines for treatments and another to reduce the gaps in
accessibility and waiting times would be established. More money would be
invested in primary and preventive medicine.
Anat Littwin, head of ACRI’s
residents department, said she was worried over calls to allow private medical
service (Sharap) in the state and Clalit Health Services hospitals, legal only
in Jerusalem’s voluntary hospitals.
“We fear it will be done out of an
interest of profitmaking and not to improve patient health,” she said. “The
German committee has a real opportunity to carry out a basic repair of the
health system and return it to the path that existed” when the National Health
Insurance Law was passed in 1994, said Littwin.
Rami Adut, the Right to
Health Project Coordinator at ACRI, said that every shekel spent on private
medical treatment is much more wasteful than a shekel spent in the public
system. Even worse, “private money in a public system causes it to behave like
private health insurance. The time has come to restore the public health system,
the insurers and the hospitals, to the whole population and insure that every
person receives the treatment he needs, with the aim that he be healthy and not
that others profit,” he said.
Prof. Nadav Davidovitz, a member of PHR-I,
added that the growth rate in private health expenditures is among the highest
in the world.
“It erodes the principles of the National Health Insurance
Law, especially the principle of equality,” he said. “There is a big difference
between the health of the wealthy and the poor.”
Davidowitz said he
believed strongly in the recommendations.“ Many academics participated in
preparing the position paper, and we believe that it is an applicable solution
that will restore public faith in the system.”