Weekly Commentary: Competition Makes Israeli Nationalized Health Care
Dr. Aaron Lerner 15 January, 2021
In the bad old days before competition you could lose half a work day just
for a simple blood test. There was a tremendously long line at the general
reception to get a ticket to then stand in another equally long line to
register at the reception area of the lab followed by yet another painfully
long wait to be called to have your blood drawn.
The National Health Insurance Law, in effect since January 1995, changed all
that by providing that all Israelis are members of an HMO of their choosing
with the unrestricted ability to change HMO's regardless of age and
The government sets an ever-growing minimum basket of services which the
HMOs must provide with the HMOs competing on both the quality of provision
of the basket and services beyond the minimum basket.
The HMOs themselves as well as insurance companies offer additional layers
of coverage. This coverage also is typically not linked to place of
Blood tests, X-rays etc. are a matter of minutes rather than hours.
Thanks to competition the HMOs are now working 24/7 to show their members
that they are the place to be during the COVID-19 nightmare.
They scrambled to update their websites and apps for the vaccinations and
Today you can make an appointment for a FREE COVID-19 test in your own city
or anywhere else you wish with the choice of walk in or drive through
Ditto for the COVID-19 vaccination if it has been released to your age group
(if may already drop to 45+ next week).
The HMOs have set up vaccination centers in shopping malls and other
convenient locations across the country. Wherever you go for the
vaccination the person administering the shot can see your medical records
via you national ID number to determine how long someone should remain in
the area after the vaccination to see if there is an adverse reaction.
So yes Israel has national healthcare. But without the competitive
environment which drives them to excel I daresay we would still be stuck
wasting half a day's work for a simple blood test.
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