The country's national health expenditures remained steady at 7.7 percent of the Gross Domestic Product in 2008 - but for the first time in years, the trend of growing out-of-pocket expenditures by the public has reversed itself and declined by 1%, according to a report issued by the Central Bureau of Statistics on Sunday. The 2008 figure for national health expenditures was 7.7%, the same as in 2007, and was among the lowest rates in 21 OECD developed countries. In most of these countries, national health expenditures rose gradually between 1995 and 2007. In Israel, the rate was highest in 2001, at 8.1% of GDP, and the lowest in 2000 (7.5%). The level of national health expenditures is decided largely by the Finance Ministry budgets division. The good news, however, was that instead of individuals paying 43% of their health costs out of pocket, the rate has dropped to 42% instead of rising gradually but steadily, as it has in the last decade or so. Outgoing Health Ministry director-general Prof. Avi Yisraeli expressed satisfaction with the about-face, saying that the rate of copayments by individuals was able to decline by 1 percentage point due to the growth by NIS 1.2 billion of the national basket of health services during the past few years as well to a number of new vaccinations provided to children, and discounts on medication copayments for the elderly and for the chronically ill of all ages who receive income supplements. In addition, Deputy Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman persuaded the Treasury to cancel the Tipat Halav (well-baby) centers fee starting in January.