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?