The 5 Most Frequently Asked Questions People ask Me about Healthcare Insurance in Israel

In the past few months, I’ve been the speaker on the road for the Shira Pransky Project Health Navigation Lecture series around the country.  Many people have been asking me questions that echo the types of questions that I have received over the years.

1. How do I choose a family doctor?

It’s true that personal referrals and social media recommendations are some good ways to get names of family physicians.  However, there are some other questions that you need to answer beforehand.

  • Is it important to me that the doctor is physically close? Do I mind a drive or taxi ride or would I like the office to be within walking distance?
  • Is it crucial to me that the doctor not only speak English, but be culturally native speaking as well? Some people don’t mind if the doctor doesn’t ‘get’ them; others find it upsetting. Define your own personal needs on this first.

2. Should I buy the extra supplemental kupah insurance?

  • In today’s Israeli healthcare market, over 75% of those insured, pay for some extra level of supplemental insurance. Obviously, it’s not mandatory but if you can spare the extra 100-180 NIS per month, it may purchase you significant discounts on medication, alternative medicine, eyeglasses, orthopedic and physical therapy equipment.
  • Take a look at the Shira Pransky Project page with the supplemental insurance reviews of each kupah as well as each kupah website BEFORE you decide.

3. Will my kupat cholim cover me when I travel abroad (outside of Israel)?

Surprisingly, I get this question often, and the answer is NO. Kupat Cholim will only cover you in Israel. So if you are taking a cruise to Greece, flying to Turkey or visiting your parents in New Jersey, you must purchase travel insurance for the entire time you are away. You can call the kupah directly to purchase from them, or comparison shop among larger companies, like Harel (Hebrew site), or Phoenix (Hebrew site).

4. Will the clinic staff speak English?

When you move to Israel, I think that your first assumption needs to be ‘no one speaks English’. If you happen to encounter a salesperson or receptionist that speaks to you in English, consider yourself lucky and smile. Also, the further you move away from Jerusalem, the less likely that any of the staff will speak English. Many will be able to understand you but they may feel more comfortable responding in Hebrew. If you don’t feel comfortable yet, forging ahead in Hebrew, take along a translator (friend, spouse, neighbor).

5. What do I do in an emergency?

  1. It actually depends on the type of an emergency. If you are with someone a) who goes unconscious for whatever reason or b) seems to be having a heart attack or c) is in labor or d) has a foreign body in their eye or e) has an obvious fracture, call 101, MADA, or go immediately to the emergency room. You won’t be charged for using the emergency room if you meet these above criteria, or you are subsequently admitted to the hospital.
  2. If you, your child, parent, etc… has a high fever, suspected fracture, cut that needs stitching/gluing, minor car accident, go to the urgent care clinic (moked or Terem office) to receive emergency care that is faster and more readily available than the emergency room visit. Plus you only have to pay a small fee or no fee at all, depending on your kupah. Take a look at the differences between the two services here.

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