All universities require international postdoctoral researchers to purchase an Israeli health insurance policy before they arrive in Israel.
The Israeli health care system is socialized. However, unlike many socialized medicine systems, Israel’s system is not run via one nationalized service. Instead, there are four separate health care providers — known as Kupot Cholim — all funded by the government. The four providers are Maccabi, Meuhedet, Clalit and Leumit. You will need to choose one of these four providers, either directly or through an intermediary insurance provider. The most common intermediary provider is Harel, which works with Clalit. A second intermediary is Menora Mivtachim, which works with Leumit (see below for more information).
At some universities, particularly at Reichman University and the University of Haifa, you may also be able to sign up through the university website for a specific health care plan for university students and employees. More on this below.
Once you have signed up with one of the providers, whether directly or through an intermediary party, you may use the doctors and services employed by and provided by that specific provider. Though you will not technically be a member of that provider, you will be able to access their non-resident plans.
Unfortunately, none of the non-citizen plans from these major insurance providers currently cover pre-existing conditions. However, you can challenge the decision not to cover a specific pre-existing condition within 30 days of receiving your insurance policy. There is a good possibility that your challenge will be approved. Even so, if you are taking medication for your pre-existing condition, it is a good idea to come to Israel with a year’s worth, if possible.
Another option is supplemental health insurance, which will cover your pre-existing conditions. You can read more about supplementary insurance below.
Health care services in Israel can be divided into four different categories: hospitals, urgent care centres (named Terem), health care provider clinics and private clinics/practices.
Hospitals and Terem urgent care centres will provide services to anyone, including customers of all four Kupot Cholim, and private and travel insurance companies. It should be noted that Terem does not have centres in all Israeli cities.
Kupat Cholim clinics house the offices of general practitioners, specialists and nurses who work under a particular provider. In most cities, each provider has one or more large clinics that offer a wide variety of health care services, as well as smaller clinics spread throughout the city offering more day-to-day medical services. You may need a referral to visit some specialists, or in the case that your doctor believes you need emergency care, the emergency room (ER). If you suspect that you have a medical issue that will require more care than a family doctor can give you, make an appointment with your general practitioner first so that they can refer you to the right place.
Some doctors also work privately from their own clinics. They often accept patients from the Kupot Cholim and private insurance providers as well as patients who choose to pay privately.
For most emergencies, such as broken bones, work accidents, car accidents, etc., you will be treated at the emergency room without any cost to you. However, if you arrive at the ER with a medical issue that is not exempt from charges, and without a referral from your insurance provider, you will be charged for the visit. If this occurs, you can get reimbursed by your provider by presenting them with the list of charges. If you do not do this, you will have to pay in full.
To see the list of ER emergencies that are treated free of charge, and for more details, see here.
Some of the urgent care facilities closest to major university campuses are:
Below is a list of the various health insurance providers for non-citizens on the Israeli market. As mentioned above, some universities have their own exclusive plans through intermediaries such as Harel-Yedidim, while others will allow you to choose your own plan.
Many universities, such as Ben-Gurion, Bar-Ilan, and others, offer or recommend health insurance via Harel-Yedidim, a private insurance company with policies that work in conjunction with the Israeli health care provider Clalit.
Each university has its own arrangement with Harel, and the policies do vary from place to place, so it is important to either sign up for health insurance via the university you will be associated with or, if you are contacting Harel-Yedidim directly, to inform them which university you will be attending.
The basis for Harel-Yedidim’s plans for postdocs, whatever university they are with, is the University Medical Services (UMS). The plan covers hospitalization (up to 90 days), visits to doctors under agreement with the company, emergency dental work, and more. Click here to see more details.
Some universities have their own agents or health insurance coordinators who can help you purchase a Harel-Yedidim policy. Contact information for each university can be found below.
You can contact Harel-Yedidim directly at 03-638-6216 or email: Y_health@yedidim.co.il.
- Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
- Bar-Ilan University
- The Harel-Yedidim agent who works with Bar-Ilan students and postdocs is Ms. Einat Cohen: +972-3-638-6216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Reichman University
- You must register for a policy with Harel-Yedidim via the university’s website, here.
- University of Haifa
Menora Mivtachim is another large Israeli insurance company that provides health insurance for non-citizens through the Israeli health care provider Leumit. The policy is called Menora Mivtachim Top Tourists.
Top Tourists covers hospitalization, non-hospitalization medical costs, certain surgeries, prescriptions, emergency dental care, special expenses (depending on the specific policy), ambulance transportation, home doctor visits and more. It should be noted that it does not cover pre-existing conditions. To see an example of a Top Tourists policy, click here (this is the policy offered to Tel Aviv University students and staff).
A Top Tourists policy costs NIS 2,555 a year.
You can contact Menora Mivtachim by phone: +972-37-107460, or email: Briut1@menora.co.il. If you are at Tel Aviv University, you should contact Sagit: email@example.com, who is the specific agent dealing with Tel Aviv University students.
As mentioned above, Maccabi is one of the four Israeli health care providers. It provides health care for non-citizens directly and not through an external insurance provider. The Maccabi policy, called the Wellcome Policy, includes:
- Primary care: general practitioner, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology
- Other medical specialists
- Free dental care up to the age of 14
- Emergency medicine, hospitalization and emergency room care
- Elective hospital admission
- Care at children’s health clinics
- Diagnostic services at Maccabi facilities, including imaging and gastroenterology
- Laboratory tests
- Medications covered by the National Health Insurance Law
- Treatment in the Dead Sea for psoriasis patients
- Child development treatments
You can also purchase supplemental insurance (Maccabi Sheli), which covers specialized treatments, certain medications, dental care, eyeglasses and contacts, laser eye surgery and more, in addition to what’s covered by Maccabi’s basic policy.
Like Maccabi, Meuhedet provides health insurance directly and not through an intermediary health insurance company. A Meuhedet health insurance policy for non-citizens covers:
- Primary medicine — family medicine, pediatrics and gynecology
- Specialty medicine — diagnostic services and treatment by specialists employed by or under agreement with Meuhedet
- Hospitalization — at public hospitals under agreement with Meuhedet with no waiting period
- Emergency room — coverage of expenses caused by emergency room visits
- Medications — pharmaceutical services at Meuhedet medical centres across Israel, as well as the hundreds of external or private pharmacies under agreement with Meuhedet
- Home visits — a non-resident member in urgent need of medical services at times when the clinics are closed and who cannot reach an urgent care centre may order a home visit by a doctor
- Urgent care centres
- Urgent ambulance evacuation
- Private institutes and laboratories
- Physiotherapy — available at Meuhedet institutions
- Complementary medicine — acupuncture, shiatsu, chiropractic services, homeopathy, the Feldenkrais Method
- Eye exams — non-resident members receive a range of medical eye exams at Meuhedet clinics
- Wheelchairs and walkers
- PPD exams and lung imaging
- Vaccinations against tetanus, rabies and diphtheria
- Amniocentesis tests for women aged 35 and older at the beginning of a pregnancy
Prices for students under the age of 40 start at NIS 130 a month. For more on Meuhedet’s prices, see here. You can see more about the Meuhedet policy here. To contact a Meuhedet representative by phone, dial *3833.
For people with pre-existing conditions or who have health concerns that may not be covered by the policies listed above, it may be a good idea to purchase supplemental insurance.
As mentioned above, Maccabi’s supplemental insurance policy, Maccabi Sheli, is available to non-citizen residents. In addition, a private insurance company called MediCare provides supplemental insurance to non-citizens and citizens alike. If you have a pre-existing condition, this is a good option. You can find out more about MediCare’s policies here.