Three health funds are in the red

The funds are running deficits because the Treasury is not fully updating allocations according to population growth and the Cost-of-Living Index.

doctor 88 (photo credit: )
doctor 88
(photo credit: )
Three of the four public health funds are running deficits because the Treasury is not fully updating allocations according to the ageing and growth of the population and the increase in the Cost-of-Living Index. That was the main message of a 34-page report issued Wednesday on Clalit Health Services, Maccabi Health Services, Kupat Holim Meuhedet and Kupat Holim Leumit for 2005. The document, which presents the annual accounts of the insurers, was written by independent accountant Tova Hillman and issued by the Health Ministry. Dr. Yoel Lipschitz, the ministry's deputy director-general in charge of health fund supervision, said the report was "bad news, as it means that the Treasury is not reimbursing the health funds enough. This inevitably forces them to cut back services to the average member." The funds spent an average of NIS 759 per member for medications and medical equipment. Clalit spent NIS 727 on each member, compared to NIS 810 by Maccabi, NIS 805 by Leumit and NIS 801 by Meuhedet. Lipschitz said the report covered data that was almost two years old because Treasury Accountant-General Yaron Zelekha had ordered that all state accountants be replaced and it took time for the new ones to learn the ropes. But the data for 2006 will be published in a few months, he said, adding that the trend of reduced funding and running deficits in the health funds apparently continued last year. Clalit finished 2005 with a deficit of NIS 347 million, compared to a surplus of NIS 4m. in 2004; Maccabi had a deficit of NIS 65m., compared to an excess of NIS 9m. the previous year; and Leumit had a deficit of NIS 75m. in 2006, compared to an excess of NIS 13m. the previous year. Only Meuhedet finished 2005 in the black, with a surplus of NIS 13m., down from NIS 28m. in 2004. Maccabi issued a statement saying the report was "misleading" because it "did not go into deficit" in 2006 and has been in the black seven years in a row. But Lipschitz said Maccabi was in the red in 2005, according to the uniform criteria set by the ministry, which included expenses for carrying out efficiency plans. The four health funds spent a total of NIS 25.9 billion in 2005, compared to NIS 24.9b. in 2004. Their expenditures per member rose by 5 percent. The insurers' main expenses were for hospitalization (43% of their budgets), wages (26%) and medications (21%).