Maccabi: Health funds’ deficits somewhat lowered, but root solution needed

The basket of health services spent on the public in 2012 totaled NIS 34.678 billion.

Doctor mother and baby 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Kaplan Medical Center)
Doctor mother and baby 370
(photo credit: Courtesy Kaplan Medical Center)
The Health Ministry reported Tuesday that the country’s public health funds finished 2012 with a significant deficit, though greater financial support from the government meant that those deficits were diminished compared with the losses in 2011.
The report was written by accountant Dafna Barzilai of the accounting firm Barzilai and Partners, which the ministry hired to collect the data. It stated that the basket of health services spent on the public in 2012 totaled NIS 34.678 billion, a 6.1 percent rise since 2011.
The four public health funds had a combined deficit of NIS 861 million last year, compared to NIS 1.259 billion in 2011. The report explained this reduction by noting that the health insurers had received financial support from the government after payment was delayed for 2011- 2012 because “stabilization agreements” were not signed until December.
If one-time losses and multiple instances of government support were taken into consideration, Clalit Health Services – the largest health fund with half of the country’s insured – should have been showing a 2012 deficit of NIS 1.97 billion, compared to NIS 1.36 billion the year before.
But because of government financial support, Clalit’s deficit ended up looking a lot less severe, the report said – NIS 1.186 billion compared to NIS 578 million in 2011.
In 2012, Maccabi Health Services – the second-largest health fund – would have ended last year with a deficit of NIS 375 million without government support, compared to NIS 337 million in 2011.
Kupat Holim Leumit – the smallest of the four– would have had a NIS 240 million deficit, compared to NIS 158 million at the end of the previous year.
Kupat Holim Meuhedet, the third-largest health fund, was the only one of the four that, without support, would still have had a decreased deficit from 2011 – NIS 164 million in 2012, down from NIS 282 million.
The accounting company predicted that at the end of this year, the deficits of the four health funds would be even more severe.
Hospitalization costs rose for all the health funds by 8.8% in 2012, and salary costs increased by 7.9%. It cost them 8.9% more to purchase medications for their members in 2012.
More than 42% of the health insurers’ costs involved hospitalization expenses compared to 41.8% in 2011. These costs rose higher than the increase in the population – a statistic which, the accounting firm says, reflects an increase in diseases to be treated and longer life expectancy.
Eighty-eight percent of the four health funds’ income from community (non-hospital) services came from government sources last year. Health taxes are divided up among the four health funds by the National Insurance Institute.
The rest of the health insurers’ income comes from their members as copayments for drugs and medical equipment and services that are not covered by the National Health Insurance system.
Maccabi Health Services was the only insurer to comment on the results. “All the insurers are in a deep deficit... From year to year, the deficit only grows without essential solutions from the government. It will continue. Such a significant deficit harms treatment for patients and all other elements in the system, including the hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and more.”
Maccabi concluded that the “government must solve the budgeting problems of the health funds from their roots, as one-time supports are like putting a small Band-Aid on a bleeding wound.”