Patient advocates: Copayments for drugs must be eliminated

According to report prices have exceeded Cost-of-Living Index; Meretz chairman Haim Oron initiates bill to completely eliminate the fee.

haim oron 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
haim oron 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Although the cost of prescription drugs dropped recently due to the decline in the value of the dollar, a new position paper by two voluntary organizations has found that the amount Israelis spent in copayments for such medications increased by 50 percent between 2002 and 2006. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and the Adva Center said Monday that the average household spends NIS 90 a month on prescription drugs instead of NIS 60 in 2002, even though the Cost-of-Living Index increased by only 3.8% during the same period. The five lowest economic deciles in the country suffered the most from the increase. As a result of the report, Meretz chairman Haim Oron has initiated a bill that would completely eliminate copayments - the participation of residents in the cost of subsidized medications supplied by the health funds. The report said that in 1994, the government covered half of national health expenditure but this dropped to 42% in 2000 and 38% in 2006. The Treasury has thus succeeded in its target of reducing public funding of health and putting more of a burden on households. In 2005, 23% of the poorest Israelis said they had to forgo vital medications because they couldn't afford copayments. PHR-Israel and the Adva Center said the problem could be solved if the maximum income ceiling for monthly health taxes were increased, so the wealthy would pay more for national health insurance; if tobacco taxes were set aside for health services instead of going to the Treasury; if the income ceiling for copayments by the chronically ill and elderly were lowered; and if copyaments for preventive health services were gradually reduced. Adva Center Director-General Barbara Svirsky concluded that the National Health Insurance Law of 1994 has been perverted so that equity no longer exists. "To achieve true equity, copayments for medical services and medications must be cancelled."