Israelis worry whether they will get care they need if fall sick

83% of Israelis buy supplementary health insurance, but only half feel secure they will get medical treatment needed.

June 20, 2013 01:47
2 minute read.
DR. BENZION SILVERSTONE of Shaare Zedek Medical Center examines a patient.

Eye doctor examines patient 370. (photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)


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Even though 83 percent of Israelis buy supplementary health insurance from their public health funds and 42% have commercial health insurance policies, only half of them feel secure they will get all the medical treatment they need if they become seriously ill.

This is one of the findings of the ninth poll of Jerusalem’s Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute on public satisfaction with service and functioning of the health system.

Results of the poll, conducted by Dr. Shuli Brammli- Greenberg and Tamar Medina-Hartom, have been published since 1995. The level of security felt by Israelis that they will get everything they’re entitled to if seriously ill is the lowest among 11 countries included in the Commonwealth Fund study that asked this question in 2010.

Brammli-Greenberg and Medina-Hartom put extra focus this year on frequent users of the health system due to serious illness and found that they encounter more problems of accessibility to medical treatment and of financing their care.

However, in general, there has not been any change in the high level of satisfaction with their health funds, which reached 91% last year compared to 90% in the previous year.

Satisfaction with Maccabi Health Services, the second-largest health fund, was the highest at 95%, compared to 91% for Kupat Holim Meuhedet (the third largest) and Kupat Holim Leumit (fourth largest), and 90% for Clalit Health Services, the largest of the four that insures half the population.

The most popular medical staffers according to patients is the personal physician (51%) followed by nurses (42%) and clerks (33%).

Six percent of those polled said they had to forgo medical treatment (not including dental care and medications) because they couldn’t afford it, while 9% didn’t purchase medicines they were prescribed because they lacked the money. There were other reasons for not getting medical care they needed: These included distance and waiting times.

Among the reasons other than money for not taking medication were that patients thought they “didn’t need them” or did not have confidence in the doctor who prescribed them.

The rate of Israelis who purchased commercial health insurance rose significantly from 35% in 2009 to 42% last year. The rate of those who have supplementary health insurance policies from their public health fund rose from 81% in 2009 to 83% in 2012.

The figure among young people was 82%, while 85% of the elderly held supplementary health insurance.

Most of the people with extra health insurance said they did not make use of the policies in the past two years.

Forty-one percent of Israelis said they were “regular recipients of medical care.”

About a fifth of those polled said their medical condition was below average in recent years, while 18% were hospitalized since 2010 and 16% received treatment for chronic illness, injury or disability during the past year. Fifteen percent underwent operations in the past two years.

Members of Clalit and Leumit were more likely (44% and 42%, respectively) to be regular users of medical care, compared to 38% in Maccabi and 36% in Meuhedet.

Frequent patients reported more difficulty than others in getting medical care at night.

The researchers interviewed a representative sample of 2,330 people aged 22 and up in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian and English.

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