dentist illustrative 311.
(photo credit: Bloomberg)
Just a week before subsidized dental care is provided to children through the
age of seven, the Finance Ministry is insisting that a fifth health fund – “for
dental care only” – be established to compete with the four existing
comprehensive health funds.
The Treasury says the arrangement will allow
private dentists to supply treatment to young children as well as those working
for the four health funds. However, there is no explanation why an additional
health fund – a private one – needs to be set up for this purpose instead of a
voucher system or another mechanism to allow parents to take their children to
any provider they wish.
The Health Ministry spokeswoman said Wednesday
that Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman and the ministry opposed the
establishment of a private health fund. She said the four health funds carried
out their responsibilities in an “excellent way.”
A fifth health fund for
dental treatment, however, “is not connected to a fifth (and private) health
fund for all medical services. It would allow private dentists in independent
clinics to compete with public health fund dentists and prevent their moving to
a closed market that would harm the level of dental care,” she
“It is unthinkable that private dentists would be barred” from
offering their services, which would be the case under the existing system, the
Prof. Gabi Bin-Nun, for many years the Health
Ministry’s chief economist and currently a professor of health economics at
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, charged Wednesday in a letter to MKs that
the proposal was “just the Treasury’s way of introducing through the back door”
a fifth, private health fund for all health services.
Bin-Nun, would steal the wealthy, healthy and young away from the four funds and
cause severe damage to the public insurers and to the principle of
The government bill for a fifth health fund for dental care was
presented recently and passed on its first reading. Bin- Nun sent Wednesday’s
letter to MKs on the Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee, which
will meet on Monday morning to discuss the government bill.
Ministry spokesman claimed that a fifth health fund would be required to meet
all the demands borne by the four public health funds for providing quality
dental care to young children around the country in an equitable and accessible
way. He stated that a fifth insurer would be established only for child dental
care and not to provide all the medical services that Clalit, Maccabi, Meuhedet
and Leumit have been providing under the 1994 National Health Insurance Law. He
said a new insurer would not have to be for-profit.
The Maccabi Health
Services spokesman, meanwhile, said it was in favor of competition, but did not
believe that a fifth fund would be required to meet the same criteria as the
other four. In any case, the vast majority of Israelis have been shown in
surveys and studies to be satisfied or very satisfied with their
Bin-Nun wrote to the MKs that most people supported Litzman’s
initiative to introduce dental care, even if only to small children and not the
elderly, to the basket of health services. But setting up a fifth health fund
was not needed and would be very harmful, the BGU economist said.
proposal lacks all economic, social and medical logic and is meant only
promote sectorial interests and serve in the future as a platform for a
fifth – and for-profit – health insurer,” he said.
Such a system does not
exist anywhere in the world, Bin- Nun declared.
The best way for a
company to make profits in health services, he continued, is to choose
customers carefully to exclude the elderly, sickly and poor. This would
about a return to the old health system, before National Health
established, under which “undesirable” people were refused membership.
Treasury, especially during Binyamin Netanyahu’s terms as prime minister
finance minister, has tried for years to establish a fifth, for-profit
A vast majority of the National Health Council voted to oppose the
establishment of a fifth health fund for dental or other services.