Poll: Many Israelis Go Without Medicines Because of Cost

Preparing medicine in the lab of the Teva Medical Factory in Har Chotzvim, in Yerushalayim. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

A poll by chessed organization Lev Naomi indicates that despite national health insurance, many Israelis go without medical care because of economic reasons. According to the poll, 62 percent of those polled went without necessary dental care, while 51 percent passed up an appointment with a doctor, and 42 percent did not buy medicines.

The drugs that medical patients did not buy were generally off-the-shelf medications or medications that were not included in the basic “health basket,” and thus are not subsidized under the state’s national insurance law. Fifty-five percent of those aged 50 and above did not buy medicines on occasion or often, compared to 26 percent of those under 30. When it came to more expensive, unsubsidized dental care, the tables were turned; 68 percent of those 30 and under passed on necessary dental work, compared to 48 percent of older respondents.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents said that they spend NIS 50 or more per month on average on medications. Forty percent of respondents 50 and above spent at least NIS 200 per month on medications, compared to just 11 percent of the under-30s. Among various income levels, most of those who spent NIS 50 or less on medications were of lower socioeconomic backgrounds, compared to higher-income Israelis, who were more willing to buy medications as needed.

Moshe Cohen, chairman of Lev Naomi, said that it was “sad to see that as Israeli medicine advances, it creates more inequalities, with hundreds of thousands left behind – mostly among the economically weaker populations. For those who can afford it, there are many technological developments that can be taken advantage of. What that means, unfortunately, is that the richer you are, the healthier you are likely to be, while the poor will be left behind.”