Universal Health Coverage in Israel: Going Beyond the Number Covered (English)

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The health indicators of Israel are high, while relative spending on healthcare is low. The enactment of the National Health Insurance Law (NHIL) in 1995 entitled all Israeli residents to free or nearly free health coverage via access to a socially determined “basket” of medical care. However, the NHIL recognizes that universal health coverage (UHC) transcends “the numbers,” or shares of population coverage. According to this law, UHC also embodies a series of qualitative attributes. This paper highlights the UHC attributes achieved in the Israeli healthcare system, beyond population coverage: equitable coverage, progressive contributions, access depending solely on medical need, accountability, and free choice. It also demonstrates particular implementation and continuance challenges: the lack of a firm state commitment to equitable UHC, leading to persistent disparities across Israel.