Israel is a Welfare State

In Israel there are Government based subsidies for all health and welfare issues.  The medical system works on the basis of Sick Funds (Kupat Holim) that each citizen can join and pay for thru his/her employer.  They are private but are subsidized by the Government thru the Ministry of Health (Misrad Habriut).  The General Sick Fund (Clalit) is required to provide health care for anyone who is indigent or cannot afford to belong. Most of the larger hospitals are owned by Clalit, but Tel Hashomer is owned by the Min. of Health directly and Hadassah is of course private.  We belong to the Maccabi Sick Fund that is smaller than Clalit and we find it is very efficient.  When you make an appointment at a clinic and arrive, you pass your magnetic card thru a monitor out front and it tells you where to go.  If you want to see a nurse or administrator you get a number instead.

All systems are subsidized, for example the employment of a foreign worker (usually Philippino, Indian or Chinese) as a carer for a sick person is subsidized, up to the extent of 40% of the cost.  My wife is now in an Alzheimer’s Ward and we have just applied for a subsidy for the high cost thru the Ministry of Health.  The process is complex yet straightforward.  There are forms that have to be filled out (in Hebrew of course) by the doctor, the nurse, the social worker, the gerontologist, etc.  With my daughter Miriam’s help (her Hebrew is very much better than mine) we visited the local office of the Ministry of Health and we submitted our forms, with appropriate identity information.  The people we met with there were very pleasant and helpful. Once they have processed them then we have to submit forms on our financial information, and eventually they will give us a code that tells how much they will subsidize.  Depending on the “means test” it may be nothing or all of the cost. Even if nothing it is worthwhile to be registered with them.

For people who cannot speak or read Hebrew there are private immigrant organizations, like the ones for English speakers, namely the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI) and the British Immigrants Association (HOB), as well as Russian, Spanish, Ethiopian and French equivalents, that give advice in each language and guide immigrants thru the necessary bureaucratic processes.

It goes without saying that these subsidies in all aspects are for all citizens, irrespective of religion and country of origin.  Needless to say there are many patients, clerks and doctors who are Arabs, and all signs are in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian, and if you are lucky also in English and French. Of course, the Arab citizens are expected to speak Hebrew, the language of the country, as are all immigrants.  The idea that Israel is an “apartheid state” is totally ludicrous and false.  You have only to visit any clinic or hospital in Israel to disabuse anyone of this propagandistic falsehood.   It so happens that the Chief Nurse at my wife’s Home is a Beduin Arab, the doctor is of Russian origin, and many of the nurses are Russian and Beduin.  The excellent social worker at our previous Maccabi Clinic in Netanya was an Arab woman.  They all work together without any problems.