More Israelis buying private health insurance

Health Ministry official says basic basket and insurance offer good protection, private purchase unneccesary.

Meuhedet 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Meuhedet 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
There has been a significant increase in the purchase of private health insurance in Israel in recent years compared to rates in other OECD countries, according to the Health Ministry’s data published on Wednesday.
Daniella Arieli, Nir Kaidar and Dr. Tuvia Horev of the ministry’s economic and health insurance branch, will present their study at the annual meeting of the National Institute for Health Policy Research.
Expenditures for health insurance rose by 80 percent between 2005 and 2010, compared to an increase of only 10% in other insurance fields. On average, for every shekel an Israeli resident spends on private health insurance, he receives less than 50% in reimbursement for health services he has consumed.
Insurance is the biggest expenditure for health among households in Israel, the report found, and the growth in the purchase of insurance policies is the main factor behind the rise in private health expenditures over the past decade.
Between 2003 and 2009, the share of private health insurance costs out of all private healthcare costs has risen by 21%, compared to only 7% in other OECD countries. In that period of time, per capita expenditure on health insurance rose by 58% in Israel compared to just 37% in the other developed countries.
Asked for the reasons for the higher demand for private health insurance, Kedar told The Jerusalem Post that the study did not look into that aspect, but he suggested that the public – at least those better-off financially – have increased interest in buying additional insurance. He did not support the idea that the public believe they are getting less from the basket of health services.
Kaidar said there was “no reason” to buy health insurance privately, as the basic basket and health fund supplementary health insurance offer good protection, and many private policies overlap with public ones. “They paid years ago and keep paying without knowing what they can get from them,” he insisted.
Meanwhile, the Central Bureau of Statistics issued on Tuesday its data on health subjects for 2010. The report is titled “Selected Data from the 2010 Social Survey on Health and Way of Life: Health Insurance.” The survey questioned people 20 years and older.
Among the findings were that 52% of the population is insured with Clalit Health Services, a quarter with Maccabi Health Services, 11% with Meuhedet and 8% with Leumit. Seventy-six percent have supplementary health insurances policies from their public health fund, according to the CBS, while 27% had private insurance in 2010. People who assessed their health as “good” or better (this usually goes with higher socioeconomic levels) spend more on supplementary and private health insurance than those who regard their health as bad.