(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Health Ministry said Monday that it is waiting for the recommendations of a
special committee investigating the effects of reducing or cancelling the
public’s copayments for medications and a variety of health services before
deciding its position on the matter.
The Israel Medical Association this
week issued a call to ministry director-general Dr.
Ronni Gamzu to
gradually cancel out-of-pocket payments, based on many studies showing that poor
people often forgo medical care because they can’t afford them.
secretary-general Leah Wapner said that the Israel Health Council and other
groups advocate the cancellation of such payments, which have steadily increased
since the National Health Insurance Law went into effect in 1995.
argument of the Treasury, which opposes cancellation, is not only that
copayments are a steady source of income for the health system but that they
also minimize “overuse” of the health system caused by taking “unnecessary”
prescribed medications and undergoing tests that are “not needed.”
said that copayments have stopped serving as a means to reduce “overuse” of
healthcare and turned into a barrier to basic healthcare for many Israelis, thus
causing health to decline and eventually costing the system more to
Copayments, she added, “enlarge the social gaps and harm the
principle of equity” laid down by the National Health Insurance
Advocates of cancellation maintain that abolishing copayments would
contribute more to public health than adding new drugs and other medical
technologies to the basket of health services.
All health funds charge
about NIS 20 per quarter for a visit to a specialist, while Maccabi Health
Services charges also for seeing a general practitioner or
About a tenth of the general public admits that they have
not gone for a necessary visit to a doctor, while almost a fifth of the lower
socioeconomic groups say they forgo going to the doctor because they can’t
This has been confirmed in surveys by the Myers-JDCBrookdale
Institute, the Central Bureau of Statistics and the IMA.
are for medications, visits to hospital outpatient clinics and diagnostic
institutes and treatment at child development centers. The maximum per-capita
copayment for medications used by the chronically ill is as high as NIS 864 per
Israelis’ out-of-pocket medical expenditures constitute 43% of
national health expenses, compared to less than 18% in the United Kingdom and
22% in France.