The High Court of Justice on Thursday gave the state six months to update the Health Expense Index, which according to a petition by Israeli health service providers hasn’t been accurately updated in years, resulting in extra expenses for the public.
The Health Expense Index determines the amount of funds the government hands over to registered health service providers. Israel has a publicly funded health system. Residents receive services from one of four licensed providers, who, in turn, get money from the national treasury.
According to the ruling, the index did not sufficiently take into account the rise in health services costs in recent years. The judges found that the providers were forced to make up the difference, adding up to roughly two billion shekels a year, but since providers are prohibited by law from taking on debt, the shortage came at the expense of the services provided to patients.
The judges slammed the government, saying “it dragged its feet” while citizens’ healthcare rights “were slowly being gutted.”
According to the petition the cost of a day of hospitalization, which makes up 45 percent of health service providers’ expenses, was the main price element not updated. While the cost increased by 110% over the last 16 years, according to the petition the index only increased by 79%.
Health service providers rejoiced after hearing the decision. “We can now invest more in saving people’s lives, purchasing more drugs, shortening waiting times and decreasing costs to the public,” said Ran Sa’ar, CEO of Maccabi Health Services.
“We are talking about billions of shekels that will enter the health system and will enable us to provide better treatment,” said Asher Elchiani, CEO of Meuhedet Health Services.
The Finance Ministry said in a statement that it had started taking action to correct the index even before the court ruling was handed down.
It is not yet clear if and how retroactive payment will be made for the years in which the health services providers were underfunded by the government.