A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

A Peek at the Israeli Health System II

A Peek at the Israeli Health System II

March 20, 2007

(Haifa): Previous post focused on some differences between the US and Israeli health systems – especially around financing and access. Now for some similarities on these other concerns.

Perhaps it’s superfluous to mention, but “universal coverage” is far from the end of the story. Concerns, tensions, and disagreements abound within a system that is getting stretched thinner and thinner, along with the rest of the Israeli human services system. By the way, Israel has the highest poverty rate among advanced nations, hovering around 30%.

Cost sharing is a big concern here. With more than 30% of health system financing coming from out-of-pocket payments (a much higher rate than that borne by insured folks in the US), this is a key concern, especially for those who cannot afford supplemental coverage. “Paying more to get less and less” is a common refrain by regular citizens. The benefits that come with universal coverage are referred to as the “market basket.”

Major problem areas include infant mortality (their 2006 rate of 6.89 per 1,000 births is worse than the US rate of 6.43), cardiovascular disease, breast cancer (among the highest rate in the wolrd), motor vehicles accidents (blamed on “tank syndrome” tied to compulsory military service), and oral health (not a covered benefit except for preventive services for children).

Growing interest and focus on “ethnic disparities” in health and health care, as well as genuine interest in learning from the 10 year US effort to eliminate “racial and ethnic disparities” in health and health care. They’re talking with folks from the MGH Disparities Solutions Center for ideas to reduce disparities among various Jewish subpopulations as well as between Jews and Israeli Arabs (aka: Palestinians – I’m treading on sensitive turf here).
John McDonough