Sunday, March 28, 2010

Health Care in Israel: What U.S. Tax Dollars buy

Health Care in Israel: What U.S. Tax Dollars buy

By Greg Bacon

If you have health insurance, have the premiums gotten so high that you are having to choose between paying that or paying your rent/mortgage?

Maybe you should move to Israel, where they have one of the finest health care systems around, thanks to American tax payers forking over billions and billions of dollars a year to their Israeli “brethern.”

Just don’t expect this subject to come up in the “dog and pony shows” that are masquerading as presidential debates.

They have much meatier fare to dwell on, such as whether Hillary prefers diamonds or pearls.

Or if Kucinich actually saw a UFO.

On the Republican side, the two leading war mongers are acting like they’re at an auction, upstaging one another by promising to bomb Iran faster than the other guy.
Romney: “I’ll bomb Iran within the first week of taking office.”

McCain: “I’ll bomb Iran within the first three days of takng office.”

Romeny: I’ll bomb Iran within the first 24 hours of taking office.”

Just be glad to know that the next time you put off going to see a doctor because you can’t afford the bill, that your hard earned tax monies are giving your Israeli “brethern” one of the finest health care systems in the world.

The Health Care System in Israel- An Historical Perspective

Israel’s high standard of health services, top-quality medical technology and research, modern hospital facilities and an impressive ratio of physicians to population all contribute to the country’s high standard of health today.

Israel has today a population of nearly six million people - 81% Jews and 19% non-Jews, mostly Arabs. The majority of the population is urban and Israel is rated among middle-income countries. Some 8.7% of Israel’s GNP is allocated to health (1995), similar to levels among Western European countries. Average life expectancy is relatively high: 79.5 years for females and 75.5 years for males.

The health system has over 2000 community-oriented primary care clinics throughout the country, operated by the sick funds, the Ministry of Health or the municipalities. There are some 26,000 physicians in Israel, most of whom are salaried employees of hospitals and sick funds. The ratio of physicians to 1000 persons is 4.6, one of the highest levels in the world. One of the factors contributing to the high number of physicians is the recent mass immigration from the Soviet Union.

The Ministry of Health operates a successful community health service: a nation-wide public network of 850 mother-and-child-care centers, which offers low-cost easily-accessible services. About 460 centers are run directly by the Ministry of Health; others are operated by municipalities or the sick funds, with the financial support of the Ministry of Health. The services provided include health education programs, regular checkups to monitor child development and a comprehensive immunization program (newborn to 5 years). Ninety-five percent of all babies and children are immunized - a proportion higher than that in western Europe. The inoculation system has changed over the years, with the changing incidence of diseases; some diseases, such as diphtheria and polio, have completely disappeared. The nation’s comprehensive immunization program is a major factor contributing to the low infant mortality rate - approximately 6.3 per 1000 live births.

National Health Insurance

Even though health insurance was not mandatory in Israel until 1995, 96% of the population were insured before the National Health Insurance Law came into effect.

Two factors have played a major role in the maintenance of a high level of coverage among the population: Membership dues were graduated by income and based on family status, and availability of services was founded on need, not ability to pay.

Moreover, the government passed a health insurance bill in 1973 requiring every employer to pay a health tax designed to finance a portion of his/her employees’ health insurance premiums; employers’ participation constitutes approximately 30% of total national expenditures for health. From a sociological point of view, the employers’ health tax, together with the sick funds’ graduated payment scheme, endowed most Israelis with a sense of quality, equity and security in heath matters.

Health care services covered by the law include:

Medical diagnosis and treatment

Preventive medicine and health education

Hospitalization (general, maternity, psychiatric and chronic)

Surgery and transplants. If medical treatment is not available in Israel, treatment abroad will be covered.

Preventive dental care for children

First aid and transportation to a hospital or clinic

Medical services at the workplace

Medical treatment for drug abuse and alcoholism

Medical equipment and appliances

Obstetrics and fertility treatment

Treatment of injuries caused by violence

Medication, in accordance with an order issued by the Ministry of Health

Treatment of chronic diseases

Paramedical services (physical therapy, occupational therapy, etc.)

Health Care in Israel

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