Growing number of poor can’t afford doctors or medications
Twenty-nine percent of those surveyed said they spent more money for medical services in 2010 than in 2009.
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
The percentage of Israelis who say they had to forgo visits to medical specialists or the purchase of medications because they couldn’t afford co-payments has increased significantly in the past year, according to a new survey conducted by the Geocartography polling company.The survey, commissioned by the Israel Medical Association and published on Monday, showed that 19 percent of the population doesn’t go to a doctor because of co-payments, compared to 9% who said the same a year before.The highest rate of those forgoing care is in the periphery of the country and among low-income groups in the center. The pollsters examined a representative sample of 950 Israeli adults, with a sampling error of +/- 3.2%.The share of those parents who did not consult a doctor for their children is now 14% among the weak socioeconomic groups compared to only 9% of the general population.While 37% of the weakest sectors lacked confidence that they could provide medications and medical services for their themselves and their families in 2009, the figure has risen to 41% this year.Fully 13% of the public said they did not purchase medications prescribed by their physicians because they couldn’t pay the fees. Eleven percent of the elderly in the weak socioeconomic sector did not go for medical services because they couldn’t afford them, compared to 8% of the general population.Deputy IMA chairman Dr. Yitzhak Ziv-Ner said that as physicians regard themselves as the “natural advocates of the poor,” they feel obligated to push for social changes that affect human health. As the National Health Insurance Law of 1994 declared that basic medical care must be accessible to all residents whether they can afford to pay out of pocket or not, the survey results were very disappointing, he added.Fully two-thirds of the public think the state is not doing enough to expand the basket of health services, which for 2011 will be expanded by only NIS 300 million. Nearly half of the public is worried that the economic burden of new medications and medical treatments they need would fall on its shoulders.Twenty-nine percent of those surveyed said they spent more money for medical services in 2010 than in 2009.
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