Health and Defense Ministries argue over payment for soldiers' public health fund clinic care

The issue affects some 30,000 soldiers who are permitted to go to health fund clinics instead of military doctors.

November 7, 2013 16:42
1 minute read.
Defense Minister Ya'alon visits soldier wounded in Gaza tunnel explosion.

Moshe Ya'alon soldier hospital 370. (photo credit: Courtesy Defense Ministry )

The Health Ministry insists that the Defense Ministry pay for services for some 30,000 soldiers who are permitted to go to health fund clinics instead of military doctors or Bikur Rofeh clinics in the community.

The Health Ministry said that each year, NIS 20 million in health taxes is spent by the four public health funds to treat soldiers, rather than civilians. If the Defense Ministry wants such services, it must reach a new agreement and pay for the services provided to soldiers.

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Three years ago, the Defense Ministry decided that conscripts and career soldiers serving at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv or the IDF facility at Tel Hashomer in Ramat Gan could go to a health fund of their choice for medical services.

But in recent months, various IDF health officials have said that civilian doctors tended to be quicker than military doctors in giving soldiers permission to take sick days or perform reduced duties owing to a health condition.

The Defense Ministry announced that the agreement will come to an end on December 31.

But now the Health Ministry insists that the problem is not civilian doctors being too “soft,” rather the fact that the Defense Ministry is not paying enough for the service, which is illegally coming at the expense of civilians who pay monthly health taxes to the National Insurance Institute for distribution among the health funds.

Two months ago the Defense Ministry issued a statement saying “a notice was sent to the health funds of the intention of the Defense Ministry to extend the agreement by another year. In response, the health funds said that because of a directive from the Health Ministry, clinic care could no longer be provided for soldiers unless more money was transferred between the two sides. The Defense Ministry insists that the agreement be implemented fully, including a one-year extension without additional funding for the project, and it is waiting for a change from the Health Ministry on this matter.”

The Health Ministry spokeswoman said it was not the heath funds that were unilaterally bringing an end to the agreement. Rather, it was the failure of the Defense Ministry to reach an agreement by which it would cover the real costs of treating soldiers.

“Today, it is not economically justified,” the spokeswomen said.

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