Adults

 Whether you’re a resident, expat, or newcomer to the Israeli healthcare system, this resource is designed to empower you with knowledge, demystify the process, and ensure you make informed decisions about your well-being. Navigating the healthcare system can be a complex task, but we are here to help you simplify the process.

Learn About Your Healthcare Rights

General Navigation

Want to understand the system a bit better?

Israel uses a socialized medicine infrastructure, which means that every citizen is entitled to healthcare services.  The basic “basket of services” or the “sal” is a list of procedures, medicines, and types of surgeries that are covered by the National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi).  The four kupot holim (health funds) are responsible for delivering these services, for which they are reimbursed by Bituach Leumi.

diagram who is in charge of your health

Types of Health Insurance

stethoscope on forms

National Health Insurance is mandatory for all Israeli citizens and permanent residents. and is provided through the kupat holim and in some instances, the Ministry of Health.  Everyone is covered, no matter age or pre-existing conditions.

Private health insurance can be purchased through the kupah (mushlam) and provides additional coverage. The kupah must offer you these services (with the monthly co-pay) regardless of pre-existing conditions.

Completely private health insurance can be purchased privately or at a subsidized rate as a benefit from some employers. These companies can reject on the basis of age or pre-existing conditions.

Important Differences to Remember

comparison public and private health systems
public system description
private system description
woman's hand filling form

Bituach Leumi

Bituach Leumi, or the National Insurance Institute in Israel, serves as the main social security agency. This institution provides possible financial support and various social benefits, including healthcare, unemployment, maternity pay, individual accident stipends and disability allowances to citizens and permanent residents in Israel.

In general, bituach leumi stipends have both financial and medical criteria in order to quality. Each stipend, however, has different criteria, and they do change over time, so it is best to always update yourself before you choose to apply or not apply.

Any adult over 18 who has lived in Israel more than 2 years, or, has made Aliyah more than one year prior, may apply for a disability stipend from bituach leumi if they meet the following criteria:

  • Due to a physical, mental or mental impairment, resulting from an illness, accident or birth defect, that significantly impairs their ability to work in a full time capacity
  • It was determined that due to the disability they are unable to work or that their earning capacity has been reduced by 50% or more,
  • They have no income from work as employees or self-employed, or have income from work that does not exceed NIS 7,122 per month, as of 2023 (not including payment of sick pay from the employer). Unemployment benefits will be considered income from work.
  • For more specific information on rights and benefits of the disability package, see bituach leumi website (in English)

Mental Health

Navigating the Israeli healthcare system for mental health services within the kupah framework can be a challenging journey, especially when seeking support for common challenges like anxiety, depression, PTSD, difficult childhood experiences, recent trauma, or loss. Let’s break it down so we can understand the entire system more clearly.

Adults in group session

At least once a week, I am asked if I know of any good mental health service providers who work within the kupah system, and can treat an adult who needs, well, help.  By help, I do not mean that the person is suffering from schizophrenia or had a psychotic episode. I am talking about those of us who suffer from anxiety, or depression, or PTSD, or a difficult childhood, or recent trauma, or a death in the family, etc… Issues that may not (or may) have a specific diagnosis and medication attached, but that we need help with to manage. You would think that I would have a straightforward answer to this question. “Of course, go online and make an appointment with so and so.”  But it is not that simple.

What are we entitled to, through the basket of services, to cover our mental health care needs? 

RESOURCES FOR AN ADULT WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES

hotspot chart for adult mental health

Private Therapist - can be found by word of mouth, websites like gethelpisrael.org or through facebook groups. Fees range from 350 to 900 ILS and are not reimbursed through any government network. There are also trauma clinics, like the one in the Hadassah hospital system, which offers subsidized care for children suffering from significant mental health diagnoses, where payment is made to the clinic.

A kupah psychologist has an agreement with your kupah fund. Each kupah sub-contracts with a list of licensed professionals whom offer individual or group psychological counseling.   It is important to note that this list is predetermined because the provider must have a contract with the specific kupah.  You will not get reimbursed retroactively if you saw someone not on the list. You contact the therapist directly, by calling them and leaving messages. And calling them again. And moving on to the next possibility when that provider tells you they are full. All kupot must charge the same thing: 59 ILS for the first appointment and 142 ILS for each subsequent appointment to be paid to the provider.  You do not need a referral from anyone to make an appointment with these providers.

Mental Health Clinic: These are freestanding or actual kupah clinics that are now all under the auspices of one of the kupot.  These clinics are often for those people who were just discharged from the hospital, or need more intense assistance and/or will be eligible to apply for sal shikum.  They usually offer an intake session, regular meetings with a psychiatrist, a therapist, and a social worker. Often group therapy or other types of therapy are offered as well. Payment is on a quarterly basis and is either ~35 ILS or the current cost of the hitchayvut (tofes 17).

 

Emergency Room visit  and possible voluntary hospitalization– Psychiatric hospitalization is intended for people with mental disorders or illnesses who cannot stay at home due to one or more of the following reasons:

  • They are dangerous to themselves or others around them.
  • Their behavior lacks judgment (e.g. a person who demonstrates awkward or threatening body language).
  • The intensity of the symptoms is high and requires intensive supervision.

Psychiatric hospitalization is carried out in psychiatric hospitals or in psychiatric wards in general hospitals. There are 10 psychiatric hospitals and 9 psychiatric wards in general hospitals. For information about billing for emergency room visits, click here.

Mandatory hospitalization – If the police receive a report that you are in immediate danger from yourself or others are in imminent danger from you, the head regional psychiatrist, the psychiatric hospital director or the court can request that you are involuntarily hospital for a period of 7 days, with a possibility of renewal for another 7 days.

Emergency Room visit  and possible voluntary hospitalization– Psychiatric hospitalization is intended for people with mental disorders or illnesses who cannot stay at home due to one or more of the following reasons:

  • They are dangerous to themselves or others around them.
  • Their behavior lacks judgment (eg a person who demonstrates awkward or threatening body language).
  • The intensity of the symptoms is high and requires intensive supervision.

Psychiatric hospitalization is carried out in psychiatric hospitals or in psychiatric wards in general hospitals. There are 10 psychiatric hospitals and 9 psychiatric wards in general hospitals.

Sal shikum - In English it is literally translated as  “basket of rehabilitative services”.

Private psychiatrist – A psychiatrist is a medical doctor with a specialization in mental health. In Israel, these doctors may be seen privately or through the kupah, like any specialist.  Psychiatrists are responsible often for initial diagnoses, prescriptions and maintenance of mental health medication and referrals to the ER or psychiatric hospitalization, if needed.

To clarify:

  • Psychologists have an advanced degree, usually a PhD, in the study of the mind, emotions, and behavior and employ a variety of therapeutic techniques to help patients heal and improve their mental health, including CBT, DBT, psychotherapy, talk therapy, among others.
  • Psychiatrists have a medical degree (MD) and have attended a residency (specialization) in psychiatry, focusing on diagnosing and treating mental health disorders. They also understand how biology factors into a person's mental health and how to treat mental illness with medication.  They are the practitioners who can prescribe psychiatric medications.