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What Makes Israel's Healthcare System Unique?

Updated on January 13, 2022
Nyamweya profile image

Nyamweya is a Kenyan scholar who has done many years of research on a diversity of topics.

Israel is a nation in Western parts of Asia, located along the coastlines of the Mediterranean ocean. On its northeastern parts in Syria while Lebanon borders the country on the northern side. On the western and eastern sides of the country are Palestinian territories, consisting of the West Bank and Gaza strip. Tel Aviv is Israel’s financial hub while Jerusalem is its capital city. The country’s healthcare system is found to be among the most unique globally and greatly differs from those of many countries including the U.S. The government endeavors to provide free essential healthcare services and strives to provide compulsory healthcare insurance to all residents. This basically means that residents have a right to receive healthcare services whenever they feel in need.

Healthcare Delivery

In Israel, there are public and private hospitals and health centers which provide health care services in all categories. Public hospitals are owned by the state government. In addition, there are as well private insurance organizations which offer private insurance coverage. This private insurance coverage are for people wishing to cover advanced medical procedures and other health services. Further, the majority of healthcare entities collaborate with private doctors in providing members with coverage. Still, there are some healthcare organizations that operate their own clinics in attending to their clients. This is mostly performed by Clarita, the largest healthcare entity in the country with more than half of the citizens being members. In order to qualify for free essential healthcare services, a citizen is obligated to pay healthcare tax. A citizen may also decide to choose among the available healthcare organizations to become a member when he wants a special or advanced form of healthcare services. Of course, there is some fee to be paid to these private organizations. This, therefore, means that although most of the essential healthcare services are offered free by the government, citizens will need to acquire insurance from private organizations for complicated ailments. The acquisition of healthcare is therefore from the public offered and private insurance (Cohen, 2012).

Who Pays for Health Care?

Healthcare for all program in Israel is legally instituted and the government is mandated to cater to the essential health needs of its population. Consequently, the national expenditure on health can be compared and sometimes supersedes those of many developed countries. The Ministry of Health has the responsibility to oversee all health services in terms of controlling medical standards, preparing legislation and supervising infrastructure construction and maintenance. The government also requires all citizens to be insured for complicated diseases. However, there is also the National Health Insurance which is mandated to provide free health insurance for basic level coverage for citizens with no employment.

Health Care Insurance

For one to be insured for healthcare services in Israel, he or she has to pay monthly or yearly insurance premiums to the respective organizations. Further, there are different insurance plans which provide different level of services: basic services, long-term care insurance, and supplementary insurance. If one is unsatisfied with a given insurance provider, he or she can always switch to a different provider at any given moment. The National Insurance Institute offers a wide range of services, which include health insurance, pensions, and unemployment payments among others.

Any person who is entitled to health coverage without having registered any given insurance entities will need to pay independently for the healthcare services. Furthermore, while such health plans may cover the healthcare needs in Israel, visits to foreign countries are not covered. In this light, individuals are required to buy travelers insurance for both long and short-term visits outside the country. These plans cover emergency and routine healthcare for an individual and or his family.

Health Care for the Chronically Ill

The law mandated the government to ensure every resident of the country is provided with health coverage without discrimination. A patient with a chronic ailment and whose relative or caregiver is unable to take care of them are hospitalized within a public framework according to the regulations issued by the Ministry of Health. In this category are individuals with cognitive disabilities, geriatric frail persons, and chronic physical disabilities. The family member or the patient is required to finance the cost of care. However, there are some people who are in need of chronic care but remain in the community with the support of day centers, home help, and other services. The National Insurance Institute contributes to the cost of care in the day-centers and home help for those who meet the assistance criteria (The Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, 2014).

Care for the Dying

In Israel, dying patients are treated in line with the Dying Patient Law enacted in 2005 (Adini, 2010). This law provides clarification regarding end-of-life health are in Israel. According to these laws, all dying patients should be given autonomy in choosing how and where they should be treated. In other words, patients' autonomy is duly acknowledged and physicians are mandated to take proactive measures in inquiring what the patient wishes in regard to the medical treatment. The law lays down significant restrictions concerning patient autonomy which is the principal basis for the rights of the dying patient. In other short, dying patients are allowed to decide on the kind of medication they should be subjected to.

The Role of Patient in Surgical Procedure

Cohen (2012) reveals that health practitioners in Israel are required to adhere to the moral principle in respect for autonomy, alongside the statutes which protect the rights of patients. In surgical and other medical procedures, healthcare practitioners are required to provide sufficient information in relation to the benefits, risks, and availability of alternative treatment. Interestingly, there are also laws that authorize healthcare practitioners to treat patients by force irrespective of their decisions if such treatments are believed to be of benefit to them. Patients who may be treated by force are mainly those who are not competent enough on their status of the benefit of a particular procedure.


There is no doubt that Israel harbors one of the highest and advanced healthcare services globally. The healthcare delivery system in the country can be described as an efficient one. Owing to this success, there is no reason then why other countries both developed and developing should not emulate this healthcare system for the betterment of the population and ensuring public health. A nation can only be developed when its populations are healthy and this should be given priority by any government.


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