One of the most frequently asked question we get about healthcare is which Kupat Cholim (Health Fund) should I choose?
Those who are making Aliyah often ask which kupah will offer the best coverage or how they know which kupah will be best for their family.
Israel has four health funds: Clalit, Maccabi, Meuchedet, and Leumit. It is important to remember that, in terms of coverage, all health funds are obligated to provide the same basic basket of health care services, and even their supplemental plans are highly comparable. This is because all Kupot Cholim are regulated by the Ministry of Health, and are legally obligated to provide the services that the government determines are included in healthcare coverage (sal briut- health basket).
When you make Aliyah you can register for health coverage and choose your Kupat Cholim at the airport or go to the post office or Bituach Leumi later. Once you select a kupah, you will need to complete the process by following up with the kupah itself. You will then receive a kupah card (the equivalent of an insurance card), and confirmation that you are in their system and will be covered by them.
When choosing a Kupah it always comes down to the following criteria: Geography/Accessibility, Recommendations, Particular services/doctors.
Here are some tips and tricks on how to choose your Kupat Cholim:
Geography and Accessibility:
It is important that your local Clinic is close to, and accessible, from your home. For example some towns only have one health fund clinic within, or near it. Even in dense cities, sometimes small details can make a difference in how easily you can access your clinic. You may want to find out which kupah has the closest branch to your home, or a branch in a commercial center that you will be in often, or which has a branch on a public transportation line that is convenient for you. While some things may be done outside your local branch, your kupah's branch is often where you'll need to be-- going to family doctors, nurses appointments, and more.
Those with personal experience in the local kupot and specific doctors are truly your best resource. If you have English speaking friends or family already living in a particular area, it is recommended to ask them about the different health funds. You may want to ask which kupah has the most English speaking physicians, what the clinic hours are, how the overall customer service experience is, and more.
As a generalization, most Anglos living in the Jerusalem & Gush Etzion areas register with Meuhedet or Maccabi. Many in Beit Shemesh and Ramat Beit Shemesh sing the praises of their Leumit clinic. Clalit is the largest and oldest kupah, and therefore has the most extensive infrastructure in the Merkaz, Sharon area, and the periphery.
We recommend getting involved in different community groups, and asking the locals about their experiences with the kupot in that area. Facebook groups are also an amazing crowdsourcing resource. Our group, Navigate the Israeli Healthcare System is a great place to start. Many communities have Anglo crowdsourcing groups, which can also help.
If you have been referred to a particular specialist, or have a specific condition, then it's worth exploring if they work with a specific Kupah. It is also important to check which kupah has special arrangements with a hospital that you know will be a regular resource for you. Generally, all of the kupot offer adequate support for any condition you might need to deal with, but if you come in with specific preferences, then it might help you choose a specific kupah. Remember, while all kupot need to offer you access to a cardiologist, for example, not every kupah will cover every cardiologist. If there's one you really want or need to go to, keep this in mind.
You’re Not Stuck
Remember you can always change your Kupat Cholim if you are unhappy with your first choice. See Switching Health Plans for general instructions for how to make the switch.
There is also the option to upgrade to supplemental insurance. While you don't need to opt in upon your Aliyah, if you join within 90 days of your Aliyah they will waive the wait times, which could give you access to many additional benefits much quicker. Read more about supplementary insurance here.