Healthcare in Israel

Healthcare in Israel is of an exceptionally high standard on par with the best of many developed countries, including the USA and much of Western Europe. Most doctors and nurses in Israel are highly trained and can speak English, making it easy for expats to communicate their needs.

Israel has an extensive public healthcare system, which is compulsory for all Israeli residents regardless of income or pre-existing conditions. There are nevertheless numerous private healthcare options in Israel for those wanting to pay extra for additional services or personalised, high-end care. The high quality and affordability of healthcare in Israel has made the country an increasingly popular medical tourism destination. 

Public healthcare in Israel

Since the mid-1990s, Israeli residents have been legally required to join one of four health maintenance organisations, which provide coverage for the Israeli public healthcare system. The universal healthcare coverage in Israel is esteemed the world over, as it benefits from the country’s state of the art medical technology and research facilities. 

Expat eligibility for public healthcare in Israel depends on whether or not they have residency and are earning a salary in Israel. Those earning money in Israel are required to pay a health insurance tax, which is the primary source of funding for the public healthcare system in Israel.

The public healthcare system in Israel includes all basic and essential healthcare services, but additional services and treatments can be accessed through 'supplementary insurance'. An example of this is operations insurance, which provides coverage for specific surgeries. This plan is usually sold on a five-year term, with guaranteed renewal and very affordable premiums. 

Private healthcare in Israel

Despite the reach and effectiveness of public healthcare in Israel, it is not uncommon for patients to wait days or weeks for tests and surgeries. While some people simply wait for the next available appointment, many others seek private healthcare, which allows for an earlier test or a more convenient location.

Private healthcare services in Israel are known as 'Sharap', and have been the focal point of much debate in recent years. Many have argued that private healthcare creates too sharp a divide between income groups, affording only the wealthy with effective healthcare. That said, private healthcare in Israel has fortunately done no more than provided extra convenience; the overall quality of care between public and private health services is generally equal. 

Expats looking to purchase private health insurance in Israel are advised to look at a variety of options before settling. There are numerous companies that offer private health insurance and specialised coverage plans exist for individuals, families and groups.

Some employers in Israel provide additional private healthcare coverage on a group basis for the expat employee and their family, but this is uncommon. 

Medical tourism in Israel

The quality and affordability of healthcare in Israel has made the country an increasingly popular medical tourism destination in recent years. Most medical tourists come from Russia and the surrounding Arab countries, which do not have the same standard of medical facilities and expertise.

Many US citizens also travel to Israel for their medical procedures, as Israeli healthcare is world-class and significantly cheaper than back home.

Expats interested in travelling to Israel for a medical procedure can hire a medical tourism broker, who organises everything from travel and the logistics of the procedure, to accommodation and a sightseeing itinerary. These medical brokers are usually paid by the hospital and do not cost the patient anything. 

Pharmacies in Israel

There are many pharmacies in Israel, especially in the country’s metropolitan areas. While most pharmacies are open during normal business hours, there are always some that are available late into the night and on Saturdays.

Emergency services in Israel

Emergency services in Israel are efficient and effective, comprising a high-tech fleet of land, sea and air vehicles. Expats should make sure to memorise the necessary emergency numbers when travelling in the country, especially when in and around problematic areas.

Emergency numbers in Israel

  • Police: 100

  • Ambulance: 101

  • Fire brigade: 102