Corruption scandal may be reason Meuhedet’s losing members

Health fund has lost 1400 clients in the last two months.

Meuhedet 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Meuhedet 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
For the first time in many years, Kupat Holim Meuhedet – which last year was harshly criticized by the state comptroller for alleged corruption and mismanagement – lost 1,400 members in the past two months.
Health Ministry deputy director-general Dr. Yoel Lipschitz, who supervises the health funds, said the reasons for the net loss in membership by the third-largest public health insurer were not studied, but this was a new trend for Meuhedet, which has been plagued by very bad headlines in recent months.
The switch to another fund could be due to anger by members after revelations of alleged wrongdoing and/or fear that the shakeup would reduce the quality of services.
The health fund’s directorgeneral Shmuel Muallem was forced to resign after 42 years of working there in various capacities, and numerous other senior executives were dismissed due to the state comptroller’s harsh criticism and the activist stance of ministry director-general Dr. Ronni Gamzu and Lipschitz.
The comptroller said that although Meuhedet was well run and members were largely satisfied, corruption thrived in the higher echelons. They went on unnecessary trips abroad; haredim (who seek out cheaper and fewer services) were given gifts for switching from another fund to Meuhedet; and the chief pharmacist ran his private pharmacy with Meuhedet staffers while preventing a health fund pharmacy to open in the neighborhood, among other things. The health fund board chairman is temporarily running the organization, but an outside and professional director-general is being sought as the police investigate accusations raised by the report.
A total of 4,103 members left Meuhedet in the past two months, while only 2,698 joined. A total of 17,334 Israeli residents joined one of the four health funds during that period. Clalit Health Services, the largest insurer, gained 6,932 members and lost 5,328; Maccabi Health Services gained 5,219 and lost 2,700; and Leumit gained 2,485 and lost 5,203. Leumit and Clalit have had a record for years of losing members compared to the other insurers; they also have relatively more older members than Maccabi and Meuhedet.
Out of a total health fund membership of 7,531,999 (all residents are entitled), Clalit has 3,955,939 (52.5 percent); Maccabi 1,864,299 (24.8%); Meuhedet 1,022,181 (13.6%); and Leumit 689,580 (9.2%).
Their share of health taxes is calculated according to a key that take age, sex and place of residence into account.