Every resident of Israel is insured for healthcare under the National Health Insurance Law, through payment of monthly premiums to the National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi).
Anyone can choose one of the four national healthcare providers (Clalit, Leumit, Maccabi, and Meuhedet), regardless of age, pre-existing conditions, or current state of health. Each kupat cholim offers an identical basic “basket” of services, which include doctor visits, diagnostic and laboratory services, hospitalization (including births) and discounts on certain prescription medicine; however, availability of these services may differ based on geographic location.
It is also possible to purchase supplementary insurance (Bituach Mashlim) from your healthcare provider in order to receive wider coverage, such as dental care, women’s health, ophthalmology, and more. Services vary based on the different kupot cholim.
Getting Health Insurance
Signing up for health coverage is a quick process, and can be done at any of the kupat cholim office. Your coverage will begin immediately.
Olim Chadashim are entitled for up to one year of free health insurance while unemployed or retired, after which they will begin being charged via Bituach Leumi.
While you can register for health insurance at the airport, it is suggested to wait and first do research as to which health insurance provider has the best reputation and services in your area.
To register for a kupat cholim:
- Bring your health insurance voucher (received at the airport’s Misrad Haklita when making Aliyah) and your Teudat Oleh to any Post Office, to be stamped. This will cost a nominal fee.
- Take your stamped voucher to the local kupat cholim office you wish to join.
Keep in mind that if you do not sign up for health insurance during your first month of Aliyah, you will need register via your local Bituach Leumi branch.
Changing Insurance Providers
After being a member of a kupat cholim for at least six months, you are eligible to switch insurance providers. To switch kupot cholim, you must fill out this online form (choose מעבר בין קופות חולים from the right-hand menu). It may take up to five months for the change to take effect.
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Local Healthcare Clinics
All four kupot cholim have branches in Givat Shmuel, as well as locations in nearby cities with expanded services. There are also private clinics in the area that work in conjunction with particular healthcare providers.
In case of an emergency when the doctor is not in office you should go to your insurance provider’s moked cherum. Mokdei Cherum all have general practitioners, pediatricians, and specialists available, as well as imaging and other test facilities.
If you cannot get to a moked cherum, you can visit Terem as an alternative to the emergency room. Terem serves all insurance providers, is open 24/7, and offers all of the same services as a moked cherum. There is a small charge (determined by your kupat cholim), although services are free with a doctor’s referral.
If the moked cherum is closed, and you are unable to get to Terem, you can visit one of the hospitals’ emergency rooms. Keep in mind that if you go to an emergency room without a referral from your doctor or the moked cherum, and do not need any procedure done (such as stitches, a cast, hospitalization, joint relocation, etc.) your insurance provider will not cover the visit, and you will be charged the full amount of the visit.
While children under 10 are granted free dental health coverage from the Israeli government, dental insurance is not included in the basic “basket” of health services for anyone else. Still, prices are much cheaper than in other western countries, and most supplementary health insurance programs offer free yearly checkups and discounts on x-rays and other dental care services.
It is advisable to make an appointment as much in advance as possible; however, first-aid dental care does not require an appointment.
There is no mandatory vision insurance in Israel. However, many kupot cholim offer free glasses for children under 18 through supplementary insurance packages.
Children can get their eyes checked at an ophthalmologist associated with your healthcare provider, but kupot cholim do not provide vision tests for adults. Most opticians will give you a free vision test if you purchase glasses or lenses from the store.
Bar-Ilan University’s Optometry School offers complimentary full-vision workups for everyone, and can issue you prescriptions. These exams are conducted by students will full supervision. Vision tests are available for everyone.