This guide was written prior to the October 2023 escalation of hostilities between Israel and Palestinian militant groups. The ongoing conflict has markedly affected the safety and advisability of travel to the region. Please consult with relevant authorities and exercise extreme caution when considering travel to Israel and the surrounding areas.
Healthcare in Israel is of an exceptionally high standard and is on par with 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 that is available for all Israeli residents, regardless of income or pre-existing conditions. There are nevertheless numerous private healthcare options for those wanting to pay extra for additional services or personalised, high-end care. The excellent quality and affordability of healthcare in Israel have 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 non-profit health organisations which provide coverage for the Israeli public healthcare system. The universal healthcare coverage in Israel is renowned all over the world, 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 they have residency and are earning a salary. Those making money in Israel are required to pay a health insurance tax, which is the country's primary source of funding for the public healthcare system.
The public healthcare system in Israel includes all basic and essential healthcare services, but additional services and treatments, such as coverage for specific surgeries, can be accessed through supplementary insurance.
Private healthcare in Israel
Private healthcare services in Israel are known as 'Sharap'. Despite the reach and effectiveness of public healthcare in Israel, it's not uncommon for patients to wait days or weeks for non-emergency tests and surgeries. While some people simply wait for the next available appointment, many others seek private healthcare, which allows for earlier treatments or access to care at a more convenient location. On the whole, though, the overall quality of care between public and private health services is fairly equal.
Health insurance in Israel
Expats looking to purchase private health insurance in Israel are advised to look at a variety of options before making a decision. 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 families, but this is becoming less common.
Medical tourism in Israel
In recent years, the quality and affordability of healthcare in Israel have made the country an increasingly popular medical tourism destination.
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 don't charge the patient anything.
Pharmacies in Israel
There are plenty of pharmacies in Israel, especially in the country's metropolitan areas.
While most pharmacies are open during regular business hours, some offer 24/7 services and are open during weekends. It's worth familiarising oneself with the operating hours of the local pharmacies in the area.
Health hazards in Israel
Living in Israel presents few health hazards. New arrivals who aren't used to the summer sun should avoid sunburn while also ensuring that they are adequately hydrated. In addition, a doctor should be consulted before travel in order for expats to have the appropriate vaccinations.
Pre-travel restrictions and vaccinations for Israel
Before travelling to Israel, it's essential to be aware of any entry requirements or health advisories. There are no mandatory vaccinations required for entry into Israel, but travellers are advised to ensure their routine vaccinations, such as measles, mumps, rubella, polio and influenza, are up-to-date.
Depending on the areas of Israel one plans to visit and the nature of the trip, additional vaccinations like Hepatitis A and B, typhoid and rabies might be recommended. It's always wise to consult a travel clinic or healthcare provider at least four to six weeks before departure to get personalised advice and any necessary vaccinations. Additionally, travellers should be aware of any ongoing health advisories or outbreaks and take necessary precautions, such as using insect repellent and practising good hygiene, to ensure a safe trip.
Emergency services in Israel
Emergency services in Israel are efficient, comprising a high-tech fleet of land, sea and air vehicles. Ambulance response times are generally fast, and some private hospitals have their own ambulance services.
Expats should make sure to memorise the necessary emergency numbers when travelling in the country, especially when in and around high-risk areas.
Emergency numbers in Israel
- Police: 100
- Ambulance: 101
- Fire brigade: 102
►For information about the education system in the country, read Education and Schools in Israel
What do expats say about healthcare in Israel?
"Healthcare is excellent in Israel and pretty cheap compared to most countries. If you're living here as a tourist you will need a private plan though." Read more about Abi, a British expat, and her insights into the ups and downs of expat life in Israel in her interview.
Are you an expat living in Israel?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Israel. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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