Private Health Care Still Sets Yardstick for Public Hospitals

Illustration: (Image credit: Wix)

This week has been one of swings in temperature and humidity. There was a bit of a breeze, but the high humidity made for even higher Heat Indices. This is a time of transition, but it is also a time when there is a chance of precipitation (not much), and the thinking has been that there are -- on average -- about half as many extremely hot days as August. However, that observation is a bit dated: summers now seem to last longer and October is no longer really the start of the rainy season. For me, last week was hard. I spent most of the week cooped up in a room with no access to the outside. When you starve a weatherman of the weather, then what becomes of him? I was in a hospital room at Assuta Medical Center in Tel Aviv. I had the good fortune to be there because I was able to buy private insurance when I came to Israel years ago and we've had outside help. The joke -- "How do you make a small fortune in Israel? Start with a large fortune" -- really refers to those whose family members live outside Israel.

Everyone says you must choose your doctor and the best technology, but the key to good health care is the recovery, and this requires timeliness (responsive nursing care), cleanliness (to reduce post-operative infections), and privacy (the ability to rest/sleep in a quiet setting). Unfortunately, our previous Health Minister from Yesh Atid (Yael German) enacted statutes and/or legislation in 2014 making it much more expensive for Israeli citizens to buy private insurance. So, it is much more difficult for Israelis to obtain the services I recently received at Assuta. She claimed that the goal of the changes was “to turn the clock back and to increase public spending on health at the expense of private medicine.” Her idea to improve public services at the expense of private services by spending more on public services makes simple sense. But, in health care, nothing is simple! Israelis were/are buying private insurance because public service, while very good at primary care, is not very good at secondary care -- it's a miracle that Israelis have such a long life span despite this care! Why wasn't/isn't it very good? Because there is no incentive for it to be better and our representatives don't want to spend the money to make it so. But even more important: when German wanted to turn the "clock back," she ignored the technological advances first introduced in the private hospitals. It is these technological advances that make possible better health outcomes. It is the private health care system in Israel that sets the yardstick for the public hospitals. We can all have equally bad care, or most of us can (hopefully) have good care -- but it won't happen unless private care is encouraged for Israelis, and not just for tourists.

Complete weather details can be found here.

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...הָרִימִי בַכֹּחַ קוֹלֵךְ מְבַשֶּׂרֶת יְרוּשָׁלִָם הָרִימִי אַל תִּירָאִי אִמְרִי לְעָרֵי יְהוּדָה הִנֵּה אֱלֹקֵיכֶם! (ישעיה  מ:ט)

...Raise your voice with strength, herald of Jerusalem; raise it, do not be afraid; say to the cities of Judah, "Here is your G-d!"

(Isaiah 40:9)

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