Israeli hospitals try to stop potentially damaging medical tourism law

 

Medical tourism brings NIS 500 million a year into Israel, and the government has been struggling to introduce law to control inbound medical tourism.

Hospitals, via local chambers of commerce, are trying to stop the law with claims that legislation will make the local medical tourist industry collapse and impair freedom of action of local hospitals. They also allege that thousands of Israelis earn their living from medical tourism, and many of these are Russian immigrants.

Israel gets medical tourists from Russia and other former Soviet countries, African and Arab countries, Western Europe and the USA.

The Knesset’s Labour, Social Welfare and Health Committee are discussing the proposed medical tourism law.

The main row is over the requirements;

  • Hospital bills must show the amount of any commission paid to a medical travel agent
  • Before arrival the medical tourist must be given written details of the medical diagnosis, proposed treatment, significant risk, evaluation of additional treatment and the full price

The health ministry seeks transparency for every patient, particularly on pricing and ethical treatment patients.

The law is also designed to prevent harm to Israeli patients and ensure that monies from medical tourism is invested by hospitals in facilities for Israelis while giving priority to public medicin, rather than money disappearing into the pockets of doctors and medical travel agents.  

For years doctors and hospitals have made good money, sometimes by charging medical tourists more than locals, and rarely quoting the full price before treatment.

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