Health insurers 'unfair' to foreign workers

Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz charges that private companies are profiteering from medical coverage for the foreigners.

nitzan horowitz 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
nitzan horowitz 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Private health insurance companies are accumulating “a fortune” from selling policies to the employers of foreign workers, charges Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz, who demands that the government allow the four public health funds to insure them.
In a tempestuous Monday meeting of the Knesset Committee on Foreign Workers – which Horowitz chairs – he charged that the private companies are profiteering from medical coverage for the foreigners.
The Knesset research and information center said the companies collected last year approximately NIS 140 million, but paid out only about half for their medical expenses.
The center also found that charges for insuring the foreign workers were 30 percent higher than what is customary in the insurance market.
The private insurers make large profits because most of the foreign workers are relatively young and healthy and do not need frequent visits to clinic doctors and hospitals. But when they do get sick or injured, the foreign workers encounter difficulties – including reams of red tape – in getting care through the insurance companies, Horowitz charged.
In addition, he said, it is difficult for the foreigners to access care because their language is often not understood and the companies do not always provide what they deserve. Not only laborers are harmed, but also their employers who pay for the insurance, the public health funds and the Treasury.
The public health funds, said Horowitz, will not provide charity but make a profit from giving them the same basic care as Israelis. The health funds will increase their income and contribute to a significant reduction in “lost debts” for their uncompensated payments for treating the workers, according to the Meretz MK.
Representatives of the Health, Finance and Justice Ministries commented that in the coming weeks, an inter-ministry committee set up to look into the problem will present its recommendations to the government.
Horowitz countered, however, that this committee has been meeting for “several years and has not yet published its recommendations.”
The Knesset committee, he concluded, will continue to follow up the issue to make sure that the current situation is rectified.