Health funds cut charges to match haredi fees

This week, Meuhedet Health Fund examined a far-reaching proposal for free after-hours or weekend visits to its clinics.

Only a week after "Globes" published its investigation, which showed that the health funds charged full price for nighttime or weekend visits to after-hours clinics in secular communities, while giving huge discounts for visits in haredi (ultra-orthodox), the health funds have decided on a one-price-for-all policy.

Clalit Health Services is carrying out staff work for free nighttime or weekend visits to all its after-hours clinics nationwide, forcing it to absorb a cost of hundreds of millions of shekels. Clalit is examining legal and regulatory issues related to the plan, as well as the effect on its services' image of visits to the clinics by its members.

This week, Meuhedet Health Fund examined a far-reaching proposal for free after-hours or weekend visits to its clinics, although it may ultimately decide on a more limited measure. Meuhedet estimates the cost of free after-hours or weekend operation of the clinics at NIS 25 million a year, and is likely to grow. This is because its members who currently choose to save the NIS 51-69 after-hours fee by waiting until the clinics open for regular hours, when the visit is free, may visit them at night or on weekends, forcing the health fund to increase staff at them, thereby incurring additional costs.

Leumit Health Fund has already announced that it will charge its members NIS 36 for nighttime or weekend visits to its nighttime clinics, instead of the current fee of NIS 66.

Maccabi Healthcare Services is also considering cutting fees for after-hours or weekend visits to its clinics, but has not yet disclosed its plans.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 11, 2009

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2009

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