6 Frequently Asked Questions about Israeli Healthcare

Moving to a new country and acclimating to a whole new healthcare system can be challenging. After all, finally understanding your birth country’s healthcare system was a feat in and of itself.

6 Frequently Asked Questions 758 (photo credit: NEFESH B'NEFESH)
6 Frequently Asked Questions 758
(photo credit: NEFESH B'NEFESH)
To help you understand your rights and benefits in Israel, we put together answers to the six questions that Olim most frequently ask about navigating the healthcare system in Israel.
1. I’m not happy with one of my doctors. Is it possible to switch?
Your primary care doctor is your point person for all of your medical needs. You’ll need to be in touch with him/her for referrals, prescriptions, and lab results. So, if you’re not happy with your doctor, you’re going to want to switch. Switching your primary care physician can only happen once the quarter is complete. However, if there is a conflict of interest between you and the doctor or if there is another reason as to why you cannot wait to switch until the quarter is over, you may speak to the secretary at your local clinic.
2. What is a Sharap (שר״פ) and how can I benefit from it?
If your medical needs must be met at a hospital, you may be interested in choosing which doctors you’ll see. Sharap is the private health services primarily associated with Hadassah and Shaari Tzedek Hospitals that enables patients to choose the doctor who will treat them; both in outpatient clinics as well as for surgery and hospitalization. Sharap may also help you get timely clinic appointments, second opinion consulting, legal medical opinions, as well as access to preferred laboratories, imaging equipment, and operating theaters.
Sharap is a paid service, but your kupah’s supplemental plan may cover almost all of the reimbursement.
3. How can I get my child the developmental assistance he/she needs?
Israel’s Hitpatchut Hayeled (child development) centers offer an array of paramedical treatments, including, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and hydrotherapy, as well as parental and child support from social workers and psychologists. Depending on your child’s age, many of these services may be covered by your kupah.
The process to receive these services begins with a visit to your kupah. The kupah will provide parents with forms where they will share their insights about why they suspect an issue. If the child is in gan (kindergarten) through grade school, their teachers will be asked to fill out forms as well in order to share their professional insights and impressions. Additionally, a hearing and vision test may be required. Once this is completed and paperwork is submitted to the child development center the child will undergo an evaluation by the appropriate professional for a therapeutic, emotional, or educational need. The evaluation may or may not take place at a Hitpatchut Layeled center. After the evaluation, children will be referred to the necessary therapeutic services either at a Hitpatchut Layeled center or elsewhere.
4. Do I need to use the local services my kupah provides, or can I go anywhere in the country?
You may be interested in seeing doctors in a different area for a variety of reasons. Or maybe you’ve heard about a particular doctor with a great reputation. If you belong to kupot Meuchedet or Maccabi, you can see doctors within your kupah in any area in the country. If you belong to kupot Clalit and Leumi, you must use the medical services in your area. Feel free to give them a call in order to schedule appointments with other doctors in your area.
5. How do I go about switching from one kupah to another?
People choose to switch kupot for a variety of reasons. For example, you’ve moved and found that one kupah offers better treatment options in your new community. Whatever your reason, switching is simple and can be done several times a year provided you have been with your present kupah for six months. Please note that it is not an immediate process. Click here for more information.
To switch your kupah, you will need to go to the post office and fill out the required forms and pay a nominal fee. Alternatively, you can fill out the form and pay on the National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi) website. For step by step instruction, see this article.
6. If I’m having trouble navigating the healthcare system, who can I turn to for help?
In Israel, it’s not only important to know the right people. It’s also important that you have a good relationship with those people.
Your kupah’s branch secretary will be vital for helping you get the medical answers you need, so make sure to go into the branch, learn his/her name, and develop a good rapport. Speaking to the secretary in person may help you clarify a lot of your questions — much more so than a phone conversation will.
Your NBN post Aliyah advisor can not only be a great source of information but can also connect you to various medical resources throughout the country.
Finally, both Nefesh B’Nefesh’s Aliyahpedia and the Shira Pransky Project have several informative articles to guide you through Israel’s healthcare system.