The era of private medical care in Israel’s public hospitals was declared over by Health Minister Yael German, Haaretz reported on Wednesday.
Patients will not be able to pay to choose their own physician.
Instead, German said the government committee she heads decided the state will allocate one billion shekels (about $290 million) a year to employ physicians in the afternoons and to shorten surgery waiting lines.
However, more freedom will be offered in the choice of a hospital, out of a pool of three, compared to the current situation where health maintenance organizations (HMOs) make that decision for their client.
In addition, the committee has decided to increase HMOs’ budget relative to demographic growth, raising it from 1.4 percent annually to 1.9 percent, an increase worth hundreds of millions of shekels.
The issue of medical tourism was not resolved, except insofar as a decision to regulated it according to a computerized system which will track hospital waiting lines.
In another health-related item, German backed down on her decision to suspend mandatory fluoridation in Israel.
She had come under intense criticism, from a range of doctors, dentists and public health experts who argued that it would be disastrous for dental care.
Adding a minute amount of fluoride to water, according to the vast majority of experts, is safe and significantly reduces dental cavities in children.
The cost is covered by a small payment added to water bills.