Health care in Israel is universal and participation in a medical insurance plan is compulsory. Health care coverage is administered by a small number of organizations, with funding from the government. All Israeli citizens are entitled to the same Uniform Benefits Package, regardless of which organization they are a member of, and treatment under this package is funded for all citizens regardless of their financial means. Generally, health care in Israel is of high-quality and is delivered in an efficient and effective manner. Partly as a result of this, at an overall 82 years, Israelis enjoy the fourth-longest life expectancy in the world as of 2010. In 1995 the National Health Insurance Law came into effect, which made membership in one of the four existing Health Maintenance Organizations compulsory for all Israeli citizens.
The law determined a uniform benefits package for all citizens – a list of medical services and treatments which each of the Health Maintenance Organizations is required to fund for its members. In addition, the law set out a system of public funding for health care services by means of a progressive health tax, administered by Bituah Leumi, Israel’s social security organization, which transfers funding to the Health Maintenance Organizations.
Providers in the Israeli healthcare system consist of a mixture of private, semi-private and public entities. Generally, family and primary medicine facilities are run directly by Clalit for its members while the other HMOs operate their own family practice clinics in the larger cities and contract with privately operated family practice clinics in smaller communities. As with primary practice, Clalit tends to provide specialty and outpatient care in their own clinics while the other HMOs generally contract with outside, private care physicians and facilities for this sort of service. In addition to these, the ministry of health in conjunction with various local authorities also runs a network of public well care and prenatal and infant care clinics throughout the country.
Emergency medical services in Israel are provided by the Magen David Adom (MDA) organization, which staffs approximately 1,200 emergency medical technicians, paramedics, and emergency physicians, and 10,000 volunteers. The organizations operates 95 stations and a fleet of over 700 ambulances. The majority of the fleet consists of Basic Life Support ambulances. There are also smaller numbers of Advanced Life Support ambulances.
For air ambulance services, MDA relies primarily on Unit 669 of the Israeli Air Force. There are also four MBB Bo 105 utility helicopters staffed with MDA paramedics owned by Lahak Aviation operating as air ambulances throughout the country. Non-emergency and repatriation air ambulance services are normally provided by private charter carriers.