'Holocaust survivors should utilize benefits'

Meuhedet Health Fund says many Holocaust survivors do not take advantage of their medical and financial rights.

Elderly woman looks out of window [illustrative] (photo credit: Ivan Alvarado / Reuters)
Elderly woman looks out of window [illustrative]
(photo credit: Ivan Alvarado / Reuters)
Many Holocaust survivors do not take advantage of their medical and financial rights because they are unaware or undemanding, says a study by Meuhedet Health Fund, the third-largest healthcare service in the country.
Michal Richter, a social worker who coordinates Meuhedet’s treatment of Holocaust survivors, said that some aging members face difficulties due to their past losses that make them vulnerable. In response, the health fund staff offers special aid.
A project titled “Assistance to the Survivor,” that Meuhedet and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany run, helps inform survivors of their healthcare rights, including allocations and payment exemptions.
The new initiative urges survivors and their families to learn if they are entitled to additional support. In many cases, as elderly survivors’ conditions worsen, initial benefits do not match spiraling healthcare costs.
In some circumstances, survivors can receive a discount or a full exemption on co-payments when purchasing medications. They may qualify for medications that are not included in the basket of medical technologies for the rest of the population. Survivors may be exempt from paying for diagnostic institutes, medical specialist co-payments and other costs.
Meuhedet recommends that they speak to a social worker at their health fund branch to determine entitled care. Additional aid may come from the Finance Ministry’s office for rehabilitation of the disabled, Germany’s health payments office, the Claims Conference, the new law increasing benefits for survivors, the Amcha and Aviv organizations and other institutions.
The Treasury recognizes survivors as needy and those who receive National Insurance income supplements are entitled to an annual grant from the “Claims Conference,” along with a smart card where the monthly sum is deposited.
If survivors’ mental conditions worsen, they may qualify for a higher degree of disability, which entails exemption for treatment payments and medications that are not in the basket. Also, survivors that develop new diseases may receive additional benefits.
Meuhedet’s social service official provided examples of survivors who discovered they are entitled to additional benefit. One survivor, identified by the letter B., receives 870 euros every three months along with an old-age pension. When the social worker investigated, she found that B. was entitled to more. The survivor – born during World War II – now receives a full exemption for drug co-payments, an annual grant of NIS 4,800 from the Claims Conference, a monthly smart card with NIS 200 and other benefits.
T., who is 75, was also a child during the war. A few years ago, a medical committee determined that he was entitled to 25% of disability payments due to his emotional problems, along with a monthly treasury allocation. T. lost his wife three years ago and suffers from osteoporosis and diabetes complications. Meuhedet accepted his application for additional income assistance and disability funds. T. now receives drugs not included in general health basket, and his pension increased by hundreds of shekels a month.