State spending on health care continues to drop

National expenditure on health services continues to decline, with the 2005 figure at 8.1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), compared to 8.6% in 2002. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics report on national health spending issued on Monday, this puts Israel (at $2,013 per capita) behind such countries as the US ($6,102), Luxembourg ($5,089), Canada ($3,165), the Netherlands ($3,041), Sweden ($2,825), Japan ($2,249) and Spain ($2,094) and at about the same level as New Zealand ($2,083). Health Ministry deputy director-general for economics Gabi Bin-Nun, who read the report, told The Jerusalem Post that the statistics showed a continuing trend since 2002 in which the Treasury spends less on health services, forcing the individual to pay out of pocket - if he has the money at all. "It is very sad, because it shows a strengthening of the connection between having wealth and getting proper health services. The socioeconomic gap has grown," he said. Bin-Nun added that "much more must be done to reduce copayments for health services by the public. Many of these, such as paying for infant vaccinations and well-baby services, are illogical; they make no economic sense. Parents should be paid to bring in their child for such care," he said, as illness increases the burden on the state. He said that forcing the families of patients who need complex nursing care to pay NIS 90 a day for institutional care also "is unjustified and unfair. People are sick, and those who can't afford it do not get the treatment they deserve. Copayments for health care should be completely rethought and reorganized." The figures given in the report include all medical care given in clinics and hospitals, by public and private doctors and dentists, expenditures for medications and consumer medical equipment, medical research and public medical management, as well as investments in buildings and equipment. Last year, 31% of national health expenditures was spent by households on private doctors, clinics and dentists, compared to 30% in 2004. Another 26% of health expenditures is covered by health taxes (paid for as a percentage of monthly income to the National Insurance Institute), and only 39% was covered by the Treasury (with 4% by other sources). Health expenditures on hospital services totaled 38% of the total for health (excluding investment in infrastructure and equipment), compared to 39% in 2000, while community health clinics and disease prevention received 43% of the pie. Private doctors and dentists received 14% of ongoing health expenditures, and 4% was spent by households to purchase drugs and medical equipment.