The Health Ministry last week announced a substantial increase in the number of medicines and treatments to be included in the basket of health services provided under Israel’s national insurance law. For the first time, additional treatments for various forms of cancer, heart conditions, and several rare diseases were included – providing much-needed relief to hundreds of families who have been spending substantial amounts on expensive treatments.
The fear that a family member will develop a disease that is not covered by the national insurance law has driven hundreds of people to take out private health insurance which costs them thousands of shekels a year – but guarantees that they will be prepared for many more health calamities than most Israelis.
According to a poll taken by the Midgam agency of a cross-section sample of 604 Israelis 25 and older representing the general population, 70% said that the contents of the health basket were not sufficient to ensure that Israelis could “live with proper care.” Only one out of 18 respondents felt that it was sufficient.
Sources in the Health Ministry say that many of the fears expressed are “out of proportion to the threat,” because 95% of the most common diseases and conditions affecting Israelis are already included in the health basket, and those not included affect just a small number of people. Nevertheless, the Ministry says it is constantly working to expand the basket and add services and treatments.