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Medical insurance in Israel is compulsory. Every permanent resident (citizen or non-citizen) is entitled to basic healthcare and cannot opt-out. The National Health Insurance Law mandates all citizens residing in Israel to join one of four official health insurance organizations, the HMO of Israel, known as Kupat Holim. The HMOs in Israel are prohibited by law from denying membership. In addition to the basic Health Basket's coverage (Sal Bri'ut), you can add additional health services as part of the supplemental coverage offered by the chosen health provider. In Israel, it is impossible to have only private health insurance without being a member of Kupat Holim.
Clalit Health Services is the largest out of the four health maintenance organizations, established back in 1911. This HMO runs around 1,500 clinics across the country, 500 pharmacies, hundreds of laboratories, all operated by tens of thousands of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other health workers.
In addition, Kupat Holim Clalit operates 14 hospitals from north to south throughout Israel. There are also child health centers, physiotherapy institutes, dental clinics (Clalit Smile), mental health clinics, women's health centers, and more.
The second-largest HMO in Israel is Maccabi Healthcare Services, founded in 1940. Kupat Holim Maccabi offers thousands of doctors and nurses in hundreds of neighborhood clinics all across the country. It has its own pharmacy network with 90 branches (Maccabi Pharm) as well as Assuta Medical Centers, including four hospitals and other medical institutes.
Additionally, Kupat Holim Maccabi offers dental treatments at MaccabiDent, its dental clinic network, aesthetic treatments, child health centers, physiotherapy institutes, women's health centers, and other services.
The next HMO is Kupat Holim Meuhedet. Some 4,000 doctors offer their services in over 300 local clinics, mostly with its own laboratory. In addition, Kupat Holim Meuhedet operates dozens of pharmacies and offers services such as child development centers, physiotherapy, women's health, diabetes, and much more, at dozens of institutes across the country.
The fourth HMO in Israel is Leumit Health Care Services. Kupat Holim Leumit offers an array of primary care physicians, pediatricians, and nurses, alongside a wide range of specialist physicians. There are around 320 medical centers across the country, 150 pharmacies dedicated the Leumit's patients and agreements with all government hospitals and many private ones.
Are you interested in additional information about joining one of the HMOs (four official health insurance organizations – Kupot Holim) in Israel?
New immigrants can register for an HMO according to personal choice. You can do it already at the airport upon entry or later at the Post Bank.
The registration process is relatively easy, with minimum to no bureaucracies:
1. Register at the port of entry or at the Post Bank
2. Go to the Kupat Holim office near you with the registration forms.
3. You will get a temporary insurance card - it means that you are already insured and can start using your new HMO's services.
4. The permanent card will be sent to your address by post.
New immigrants are exempt from paying national health insurance contributions for six months. This period is counted from the day of receiving the immigrant status and is contingent on registration for health insurance. Permanents residents in Israel must pay a certain fee even if they are unemployed. However, new immigrants can claim an exemption for additional six months if they are not working, and they are receiving a living allowance from the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigration Absorption.
As a non-native Hebrew speaker, check if there are any services offered in English or in another language, you feel comfortable with. For example, in addition to English, Kupat Holim Clalit provides information in Arabic and Russian. Meuhedet and Kupat Holim Leumit have information in Arabic, Russian, and French. Finally, Kupat Holim Maccabi has a built-in Google Translate feature. Note that not every page has an English version (or any other language). Sometimes, you will need to contact the call center or ask friends or family to assist you.
Bituach Mashlim or SHABAN is the additional health services offered by each HMO. The policies and benefits vary between the different Kupot Holim. Each Kupat Holim offers two additional layers of coverage on the basic one. The first one has more benefits and discounts, and the top one has the maximum benefits that the specific HMO offers.
Kupat Holim Clalit: Mushlam Zahav (perfect gold) and Mushlam Platinum.
Kupat Holim Maccabi: Magen Zahav (gold) and Maccabi Sheli (my Maccabi).
Kupat Holim Meuhedet: Adif (preferred) and Si (a record).
Kupat Holim Leumit: Kessef (silver) and Zahav (gold).
The benefits include pregnancy checkups with discounts, private surgical procedures, dental care preservation treatments, implants, and discounts on hair removal, fitness club membership or personal trainers, cosmetic surgeries, vaccinations for travelers abroad, nutritionist appointments, and many other benefits.
Please note that most of the supplemental coverage services require a co-payment from the policyholder, which varies between the different HMO plans. It is recommended to evaluate the medical need, existing insurance coverage, if any (such as private insurance), and financial capabilities before enrolling in any additional health services.
The compulsory National Health Insurance is paid through the salary for employed residents or directly to the National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi) for self-employed and unemployed. The fees are 3.10%-5% of the income or 104 ILS for unemployed residents with no income.
As we mentioned before, the costs of supplemental coverage vary between each Kupat Holim. However, if you are a family, it's recommended to consider enrolling in the same HMO. Most health providers offer a maximum rate for members of the same family, saving a significant amount of money.
We know that choosing an HMO in a new country with another language can be confusing. You can fill out the form right here, and an English speaking representative will contact you and help you with this essential step.