Last week my family returned from a two week vacation in Israel. We had a nice time, but one night we had to rush to the emergency room with our three year old son who woke up and had difficulty breathing (all is well now, not to worry). What I want to share with you is this: although we had no local insurance, the entire visit cost us $140 and took less than two hours. Compare this to a similar trip we made about 4 years ago when my older son - two years old at the time - fell in the bath and hit his head (again, all is wellnow). During that visit, we had full insurance coverage, and visited a well respected hospital - Stanford University Hospital, to be exact. That visit cost us hundreds of dollars out of pocket... and let me clarify, during both visits our sons received nothing more than an examination by an emergency room doctor.
I think something is very wrong here. Our health care system is plainly not working.
Israel has a national health care system, which is funded by a 5% employment tax. Health care services are provided by a number of privately owned health care groups, which compete amongst themselves for patients. Each citizen chooses one of these organizations and can then receive service only from his chosen group. Government mandates which services, drugs and treatments are covered by the national insurance and each provider must provide these as a minimum. Folks can also purchase supplementary insurance to cover items that are not covered by the main program.
I don't know if this is a perfect system (probably not), but I think that there may be something for us to learn from this system.
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