Israel has Socialized Medicine!

Israel has Socialized Medicine! July 4, 2012

Andrew Sullivan points out something rather amusing: Israel, the religious right’s dream nation, has a health care system that is far more socialized than ours, even after the health care reform bill (which is anything but socialized, actually, it’s subsidized private insurance). Here’s a whole article about it:

The heated debate over health care reform, reignited by the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold President Barack Obama’s plan, has drawn attention, once again, to the issue of government involvement in health care management and the effectiveness of a system based on universal coverage.

For Israel, this is a Rubicon crossed long ago. Despite the country’s mania for most things American, when it comes to health care, Israel chose a system based more on the European model. The government’s role is central as both funder and regulator. Yet, going by many indexes of health outcomes, the result in terms of quality of care is often better — and definitely cheaper than in the U.S. Under the Israeli system, the percentage of the country’s gross domestic product going to health care is less than half that of the United States. And coverage is universal.

So Israel must be a socialist, fascist hellhole devoid of all freedom, right? Right? It’s obviously time for the Tea Party to begin protesting in Jerusalem.

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  • steve oberski

    Silly atheists, Israel needs socialized health care in order to fulfill the red calf prophecy and usher in the end times.

  • interrobang

    Your phrasing about their “dream nation” is quite correct: The Israel that exists between the collective skullbones of the religious right and the Israel that exists in the real world are not the same thing (fortunately).

  • iangould

    1. “Socialised medicine” is a silly expression dreamed up by the insurance lobby to scare the gullible.

    2. Virtually every developed country has a significant component of “subsidized private insurance” in its health system. In Australia around 1/3 of the population has private medical insurance (subsidised via the tax system) and the other two thirds rely on on the public health system. In the US around 1/3 of the population has access to state-funded medical care via Medicare, Medicaid and Tri-care and the other two thirds rely on private/employer-funded health insurance or on a combination of good luck and the power of prayer.

  • sawells

    Look again at these two sentences:

    “The government’s role is central as both funder and regulator. Yet, going by many indexes of health outcomes, the result in terms of quality of care is often better — and definitely cheaper than in the U.S.”



  • Joey Maloney

    I’m a US citizen living in Israel. I’m in my fifties with significant pre-existing conditions. I am allowed to buy in to the health system here to receive the same coverage as Israeli citizens. That coverage includes prescription drugs, unlimited doctor visits, any and all treatment for any and all conditons (excluding organ transplants for some reason). Total cost to me: about seven hundred bucks a year.

  • raym

    Under the Israeli system…

    You could substitute the name of any of a multitude of different countries in this sentence. The result would be the same.

    There’s simply no (valid) excuse for the US not to have a decent health care system that includes universal coverage. In this, as in so many other things, the US is at least many decades behind the other western democracies.

    If this wasn’t the Greatest Nation On Earth, we’d really be in dire straits.

  • iangould

    I forgot to mention earlier: about 90% of Israelis are covered by four not-for-profit private insurers with the government subsidising premiums.

    You don’t need a British NHS-style single payer/single provider system to provide cheap, quality near-universal health care. (That’s not intended as a slight to those health care systems such as the Uk’s and Canada’s which do use that model.)

    You DO need cost control and discipline and linits on the ability of private for-profit participants in the system to maximize their proifts.

  • yoav

    When he was treasury minister back in the 90s Netanyahu has loaded the ministry with his neocon cronies and they are still there, since then they have been engaged in the standard practice of starving the public health system and then pointing to problem caused by lack of funding as proof that you have to privatize it since a public system is clearly inefficient. for example they block the purchase of additional MRI machines (funded by donations raised by hospitals so they can’t even claim it will strain the budget) which cause the wait time for a non-emergency scan to increase while a private hospital will be happy, for a cost, to schedule you for the same day. This tactic naturally rely on a gradual starvation of the system so people won’t link the reduced level of service to the government action but would instead buy the propaganda about how it’s all because of these lazy publicly funded doctors and how it would all be better if the system was run like a business (sound familiar?). Last year several hundred residents, representing a significant fraction of the work force in Israeli hospitals, threw a wrench into the plan by resigning en mass bringing the system to a standstill, will this have a long term effect or will the public be distracted by Netanyahu beating the war drums and scaring them with images of Sudanese refugees crossing from Egypt is still to be seen.

  • stewart

    One can only be surprised if one forgets (or never knew) how socialist Israel was at its founding. The Histadrut (Labour Federation, i.e. unions) ran the biggest fund and predates Israel’s existence by many years. Israel was nearly 30 years old before it ever had a government that wasn’t predominantly Labour Party. The infrastructure for that kind of society is very entrenched and while much has changed since the mid-70s, it’s hardly as simple as flipping a switch.

  • oranje

    I’m assuming the Religious Right is just going to add that on to the conversion of the Jews during the End Times. I mean, you’re already changing their religion, so signing them up for an HMO or PPO should be no big deal.

  • dobby

    Also, according to a report on NPR, Israel is the leading country in the use of medical marijuana.

  • Remember Pamela Pilger? In 2009 she was at a meeting in Las Vegas on health-care reform where an Israeli-born Jew complained about the high cost of emergency care in the USA. Pilger apparently decided that wanting health-care reform was Nazi-like, and so she mocked him by shouting “Heil Hitler” at him. She then explained to the press that she was standing up for Biblical values.

    At the time, she was wearing an IDF t-shirt.

  • Well, browsing the Internet for information about whether the Israeli health care system included contraception (including the pill and abortions), the only thing I found was a report from 1998 that specifically stated that it was not included as a normal part of insurance.

    If this is still the case, then at least Romney can try to stammer out that he was specifically talking about contraception…