An update on medical tourism development in Israel


The evolution of Israel as a medical powerhouse has been gradual but has maintained its momentum over the last decade or so.

Israel has always possessed the human capital and capabilities to become a leader in the realm of medicine but was at times lacking in the state-of-the-art equipment required to deliver the best medical care. This is no longer the case and the abundance of human capital is no longer hindered by a lack of capital; investment from the state as well as bequests from wealthy benefactors have ensured that Israel has a first world medical service consistent with its status  as a first world country.

As the Jewish homeland, Israel has always placed a disproportionate amount of energy into providing the best in medical care; nothing is deemed more important or sacred than human life. Similarly, the contribution of Jews in general and Israeli Jews in particular to advances in the complementary fields of science, medicine, biotechnology, and biomedicine guarantee that Israeli doctors are at the cutting edge of medical advances. Many medical innovations are actually developed in Israel and are available for use in Israel prior to them being approved by the EU or FDA.

Israel medical tourism in a global marketplace

Israel now competes in a global marketplace. 

  •     The world has become a much smaller place with the growth of air travel.
  •     The Internet enables the instant global transfer of information.
  •     The education and training of medical practitioners outside their homeland is commonplace.
  •     either for their major or as part of their vocational training.
  •     English is becoming the globally accepted language of medicine.

It was only a matter of time before medical tourism would emerge as a viable method of delivering medical services at competitive rates – a merging of medicine and economics.

Why Israel?

Never one to be left behind, Israel has been at the forefront of the medical tourism revolution.  Israel is not only the homeland of Israeli Jews but of all Jews. Consequently, Jews from all over the world are drawn to Israel to start a new life in their true home. Among these immigrants, or Olim as they are referred from the Hebrew word “Oleh” meaning to ascend (spiritually), is an enormous wealth of human capital that has been trained in foreign countries. Following their emigration to Israel their medical qualifications are ratified to ensure they meet local standards. Due to this immigration, Israel is inundated with doctors who are not only proficient in Hebrew and English but also French, Spanish, Russian, and a preponderance of other languages; ensuring those arriving from foreign countries for medical treatment will not feel alienated due to language.

Who visits Israel for medical treatment?

Israel is popular with visitors from all over Europe including Germany, the UK and France. Patients from  the former USSR, the U.S., Australia, and South Africa also visit Israel for medical treatments. Israel receives many patients from Cyprus for bone marrow transplants as the procedure is not available in Cyprus.

The Dead Sea - exploiting a natural resource

The Dead Sea is the earth’s lowest elevation on land and has a unique mixture of attributes amenable to people suffering from certain medical conditions such as psoriasis and cystic fibrosis.  People visit from all over the world to avail themselves of the mineral rich waters and mud of the Dead Sea, the reduced UV rays (due to the lowness of the location), and the higher atmospheric pressure. Popular therapies include heliotherapy, climatotherapy, and thalassotherapy.

The local-foreign link

Every Israeli, even the unemployed, must pay a monthly stipend that is linked to their income for the provision of medical services by the state. Most Israelis also have private health insurance to cover additional medical expenses. Notwithstanding that the Israelis have amongst the best and most comprehensive medical coverage in the world, there is still ample capacity to service foreigners looking for the best medical treatment at reasonable rates.

Israel may be a first world country with first rate medical facilities and doctors but these doctors earn considerably less than their counterparts in other countries with reputable medical treatment. This enables Israeli medical practitioners to offer world best service for prices well below similar services in other first world countries.

Another factor enabling the provision of first world medical services at competitive prices is that Israel does not have the litigious nature of other countries resulting in doctors not having to pay the enormous insurance premiums against malpractice. These savings are passed on to clients.

All of Israel’s major hospitals offer medical tourism packages. Medical tourists pay more than local clients but usually much less than comparable procedures in countries with facilities and doctors of a similarly high standard.

Part of the attraction of medical tourism is that the money saved from the procedure is used to finance the trip, accommodation, and recuperative period in the host country. Israel is a small country with excellent weather – hot summers and mild winters, as well as excellent tourist infrastructure, with a range of accommodation options and tourist attractions that are the envy of many a country.

Medical tourism in Israel is highly developed and people considering this option will find that every consideration has been taken to ensure their trip is a success on every level.



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