Leumit health fund 'caps' salaries of independent physicians

Queues for doctors are "longer, patients are frustrated and angry, and Leumit secretaries have informed me that the Leumit clinics are emptying out."

Doctor and patient (illustrative). (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Doctor and patient (illustrative).
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Leumit Health Services has reportedly decided to cap the salaries earned by independent physicians working for it, mostly in the capital, thus limiting the money they can earn each month.
The smallest health fund sent a letter to all its physicians telling them the maximum each doctor could earn, even though most of Leumit’s doctors – especially those outside Jerusalem – get a fixed salary that is not dependent on how many patients they see.
One Jerusalem physician told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that “independent doctors’ incomes vary each month, according to the number of patients seen. Some months are busier than others. The result of this cap on income has resulted in some doctors leaving the health fund; some are no longer working a full month and instead working less so as not to exceed the capping limit. “I know of several doctors who are knocking off from their working schedule a whole week per month,” the doctor said.
As a result of them working fewer hours, the doctor maintained, queues for doctors are “longer, patients are frustrated and angry, and Leumit secretaries have informed me that the Leumit clinics are emptying out.”
Asked to comment, Leumit management said that “in recent years, our doctors have received significant wage increases, partly as a result of the 2011 nationwide agreement with the Israel Medical Association and also from internal agreements with our own physicians.”
The health fund spokesman added that “the health system is in a severe budgetary crisis and with deficits of billions of shekels, both in its hospitals and the four health funds. As a result, we have had to make every effort to protect the budgetary framework. The director-general decided to reduce by 2 percent the salaries of senior managers, including his own. But at the same time, because of the central role of our doctors, we decided to establishment a situation in which our physicians will earn in 2015 the same amount that they earned in 2014, without adding extra shifts. The number of our members continues to rise and has reached 732,000, and the clinics remain full as before.”
He maintained that the vast majority of Leumit doctors – virtually all of those outside Jerusalem – are salaried and have not suffered wage cuts, and that no more of Leumit’s physicians have left than previously and that patient queues are not longer than before.