Living in Israel?
Healthcare in Israel
Before moving to Israel, it’s important to find a suitable health insurance policy. According to the National Health Insurance Law of 1995, Israeli citizens, permanent residents, and Jewish immigrants making aliyah are entitled to participate in the government-sponsored healthcare plan. New Jewish migrants can even receive the first twelve months of public healthcare for free. However, these benefits do not apply to the typical foreign resident (such as the typical expatriate).
The Different Public Healthcare Plans
Anyone covered under the National Health Insurance legislation has to apply for one of the four major health plans (Kupot Cholim) at the nearest Bituach Leumi (National Insurance) office. These healthcare providers are called Clalit, Leumit, Maccabi, and Meheudet. They offer basic coverage for essential services, e.g. consultation visits, diagnostic exams, hospital stays, childbirth and delivery, and discounts on prescription drugs. Many Israelis also take out supplemental insurance (Bituach Mashlim) for services like dental care and access to a wider range of medications.
The fees for the national healthcare policy are usually deducted directly from an employee’s salary. At roughly 3–6% of the gross income, they are fairly low. In addition to those contributions, there are co-payments for individual services, and supplementary insurance has to come from your own pocket.
Private Health Insurance for Expats
As an expat not covered by Israel’s National Insurance, you (and your dependent family members) are legally entitled to receive private insurance, mostly at your employer’s expense. A certain fixed sum will be deducted from your salary every month, but the general cost for such company-sponsored healthcare plans is rather cheap.
However, there’s a catch: such policies for foreign residents often exclude a lot of diseases or medical services, for example, pre-existing conditions, treatment for HIV/AIDS, mental health problems, childbirth, and more. For this reason, you might want to shop around for supplemental insurance and factor this into your monthly budget.
Recommended Vaccinations and Common Diseases
Generally speaking, medical services in Israel (with the exception of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) are of very high quality, and there are few health risks for visitors and residents. The most common affliction for people unused to local temperatures is heat exhaustion or even heat stroke.
Insect-borne diseases like the West Nile Virus are fortunately rare. Before emigrating, you should renew your routine immunizations and also be vaccinated against hepatitis A/B and rabies — for the most up-to-date information, check out the advice from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Need Help? Know Who to Call
Due to the diversity of Israel’s population, many Israeli doctors are multilingual, and several public hospitals in Jerusalem, Haifa, and Tel Aviv have their own phone hotline and contact person for foreign-born patients. Ask your embassy or consulate if they can provide you with a list of clinics and medical professionals that are proficient in your mother tongue. The most widespread foreign languages are English, Russian, and French.
Ambulance services in Israel are provided by Magen David Adom, and their emergency number is 101. To reach the Eran mental health hotline, dial 1201, but their official staff only speaks Hebrew, Arabic, and Russian. If you are an English-speaking expat in need of advice on mental health topics, you can try mailing them via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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