We have, unfortunately, had a lot of experience in dealing with the medical system here in Israel. We have become quite familiar with the plans and policies of our HMO, Kupat Cholim Meuhedet. Thankfully, Goldie signed us up for all the Meuhedet additional benefits programs, so we have the best coverage possible within their network.

Yet, despite having the best coverage available, we had to leave the country for her two surgeries. Not because they could not have been performed in Israel, but rather because her issues were so unique that the doctors here had no experience in dealing with them. With the exception of the surgeries, we have felt that the level of care here is actually pretty good, as long as you are prepared to wait for appointments. And the costs are much lower than anything we could have paid in the U.S.

Our son Chaim has been living in the U.S. for the past three years. When we made aliyah, we enrolled him in Meuhedet, even though he is not an Israeli citizen. Goldie made sure he had all the premium coverage as well. The premiums are much cheaper than anything he would pay in the U.S. and we have bought “traveler’s insurance” to cover him each time he travels to the U.S.

This coverage basically insures that is taken care of in case of illness or emergency and only costs a couple of dollars a day. Which has been fine for us, historically. In addition to this coverage, YU has a basic student policy for foreign students as well, again covering just the basics.

None of this made much of a difference to us until last May when Chaim dislocated his shoulder. Thanks to YU’s policy, he was able to get his various diagnostic testing and medical evaluations, which all indicated a need for arthroscopic surgery to repair his shoulder. Since such surgery was not an “emergency,” his traveler’s insurance would not cover it. And his YU coverage was limited and would leave us with a co-pay of over $11,000. All for what is considered a routine procedure.

So we consulted with the people at Meuhedet and discovered that with his level of coverage here, we could have the surgery performed here with no out of pocket cost to us (except his plane trip.) However, since we wanted to be able to choose a specific surgeon, our co-pay for the surgery would be $500. This sounded pretty good to us.

Yet, we had to arrange things properly in order to have him spend as little time setting up things here as possible. And this is where modern technology becomes amazing.

We wanted to work with a specific surgeon. He accepted an appointment for Chaim, which I went to, taking along a CD of the images from his diagnostic tests along with the doctor’s full medical reports. It was a good thing that Chaim had not flown in for this appointment, because instead of scheduling surgery, the doctor actually asked for additional tests, tests which ended up leading to a slight change in the diagnosis.

Then, once he had reviewed all the data, we discussed the options (with Chaim on the phone) and began to plan for a possible surgery. We planned everything around the chagim (to allow Chaim to recover here during them) and he arrived this week for the run-up to surgery next week.

The doctor will meet him Thursday in order to examine him and confirm the need for surgery, and he will, iy’H, have the shoulder repaired next Tuesday. Had we not had the ability to transfer the images internationally, there is no way we could have been this efficient in the timing of everything.

So we are excited to have him home, especially because having him here means we save over $10,000 in medical costs. His coverage costs us around $110 each month, so there is no question that we are getting an excellent value. And, Chaim gets to be a medical tourist, an industry that has grown by leaps and bounds here.

In most instances, Israeli medicine is at the top of their craft. We develop new drugs and new technologies. Even our hospitals are undergoing vast makeovers and becoming more and more cutting-edge facilities. Even considering that they will be private paying, the costs here are so much lower than what you see in the U.S. that coming here is a valid option for many.
Of course, being Israelis, our actual costs are much lower than the medical tourist’s; yet another reason for you to join us here in Israel.

Shmuel Katz, his wife Goldie, and their six children made aliyah in July of 2006. Prior to his aliyah, Shmuel was the executive director of the Yeshiva of South Shore in Hewlett. You can contact him at shmuel@katzfamily.co.il.


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