All four health funds show profits [p. 18]

Clalit Health Services, Maccabi Health Services, Kupat Holim Meuhedet and Kupat Holim Leumit all ended 2004 with a profit, according to a Health Ministry report prepared with help from outside accountants. The report offered a partial explanation: The funds spent about 1 percent less on each member than in the previous year. Although figures for 2005 were not given, the report said the trend of balanced budgets continued. Clalit has been in the black since it signed a "safety net" agreement with the government and instituted an efficiency program in 2002. Leumit had greater income than expenditures for the first time since it agreed to a recovery program in 2003. Maccabi showed a surplus for the third year in a row, while Meuhedet also was in the black in 2004. In the past, most of the funds ran deficits and demanded subsidies from the Treasury. The four health funds spent a total of NIS 24.3 billion in 2004. Most of the money went for hospitalization (44%), salaries (25%) and drugs (20%). Copayments for drugs and medical technologies in the basket of services constituted 33% of the health funds' expenditures on these, reflecting the decline in recent years of income from members. The insurers spent NIS 22 million on providing treatments included in the basket of services. Maccabi spent an average of NIS 741 on each of its members in 2004, compared to NIS 650 for Clalit, NIS 738 for Meuhedet and NIS 723 for Leumit. The trend of more Israelis joining supplementary health insurance plans from their health fund provider has grown, with 81% of Maccabi members participating, 72% for Meuhedet and 64% for Clalit. Leumit had the lowest rate of members joining supplementary health insurance programs; the precise figure was not given. Total income of the four insurers from supplementary health insurance programs was NIS 1.6 billion, equivalent to 7% of the cost of the services provided from the basic basket.