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what kind of health insurance do you use?

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legal warning: The information here should not be understood legally as financial advice. If you believe anything on this site is in error, please contact me. I am always open to corrections, new ideas, and new opinions...

Every time I watch the health care mess in America, I think to myself, “thank God, Israel’s health care system doesn’t look like this.” Likewise, every time I have to sit in an emergency room in Israel for 3 hours to see a doctor, one of my few comforting thoughts is that in America, I used to wait much longer. At the same time, our healthcare system is tumultuous and confusing; I am still trying to work out all the kinks in order to know which kind of service to get and what sort of insurance.

Just to make it more complicated, not every healthcare plan (kupat cholim) in every city is equal. Some cities have better doctors for different healthcare plans than others. For example, maybe the best gynecology department in Petah Tikvah is in Meuchedet, but perhaps in Rishon lesion it could be in Leumit. This means that when evaluating my healthcare plan, I first have to know the doctors where I am living.

Additionally, there is extra insurance you can buy in order to supplement your insurance. The lower level extra insurance (meduchedet adif, maccabi silver, clalit mushlam, and leumit silver) basically gives you a discount on some drugs and some lower level, once in a while procedures (including a very limited dental insurance.) The higher level insurance (meuchedet si, maccabi magen zavav, clalit platimum, and leumit gold) includes coverage for more surgical procedures and the hospitalization that you will spend afterwards. Some of the health insurance funds (most notably macabbi) also offer fringe types of insurance; for example, maccabi offers insurance that provides discounts on natural healing products.

So how much insurance should you get? I remember an episode of Third Rock from the Sun when John Lithgow’s character said he would never get insurance, “it’s just a wager against myself,” he said. That’s true, but at the same time, we need to be realistic and be prepared in case something happens.

I personally follow the middle path: I get more insurance only for the ones who are more likely to need it. Those with a specific chronic illness, women of childbearing age, and the elderly are the most likely to need the benefits of additional insurance. In my family I have the lower level additional insurance (I’m American; I believe drugs will fix whatever is wrong with me), while my wife has the higher level one.

What kind of insurance do you have? How has it been working out for you?


  1. LeahGG says:

    We’re maccabi and I have the max including Siudi for myself and my kids. husband has regular. Truth is, he should get the max too, because just his orthotics (inserts for shoes) every other year would be almost as much as he’d be paying in.

    Turned out to be very useful for us that I was on the top level when my son was born with a really rare problem and we needed to get him seen immediately by a private doctor – we immediately saved 600 shekels – the cost of maccabi zahav for me for about 3 years – before he was 6 weeks old. I’ve used the private doctor service twice (once for me, once for him), and I’ve taken medications that were only covered under zahav. Orthotics are only covered under zahav, I believe. It’s not a bad bet, as you don’t pay THAT much. I think it’s probably worthwhile.

  2. Robert says:

    Is there one insurance that tends to be easier for English Speaking Olim?

    • jonnydegani says:

      I was told that Maccabi and Meuchedet are the favorite about Americans, but I have not seen anything specifically Anglo about them. I sometimes go with my wife to her doctors (she is in Leumit) and almost all of them speak English as well. The people who do not speak English are mostly the secretaries, although if you live in an Anglo area, the odds are that they will speak English as well.

  3. Jo Guy says:

    I think the real question which needs to be discussed is not the default kupat cholim insurance, but the supplemental ones offered by Harel, for example, which go above and beyond the 30 NIS a month choice from choosing Meuchedet Si/Makkabi Zahav or not…Harel offers plans for several hundred a month, and other options, would the author care to investigate those?

    • jonnydegani says:

      As far as I have seen, Harel is for foreigners in Israel and Israelis abroad. I am interested to see what they offer here in Israel. Do you currently use any of the plans they have for Israelis in Israel? Do you know someone who does?

  4. Jo Guy says:

    How about contacting an insurance agent and asking? I can recommend you one if you like…

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