You’ve said that Israel has become Americanised – for better and for worse. What does that mean for the healthcare system?
You know, many people look to America as the “ideal place” for doctors. When I was starting out in the 1950s and 60s, being a doctor there was like gan eden. Nothing was supervised, you could make as much money as you could possibly make. You could make an absolute fortune.
But today, America is going bust on healthcare, mostly because of the insurance companies. Each one – and there are many of them – has got a CEO or director general who is making $20 million a year, and a VP and controller
Furthermore, the system is driving the doctors nuts – they have to deal with 20 different insurance companies, each one with a different way of doing things forms, each one with diff rules.
Here in Israel, we haven’t reached that situation yet, but we are spending less and less public money on healthcare. People are buying private insurance thinking they’ll get better care with private insurance. Eighty percent of Israelis have some sort of supplemental insurance.
But if you took some of the money that people are spending on insurance and put it into public sector, you could increase doctor hours in hospital clinics, and improve healthcare for everyone. Why take care of it all via the insurance model?
Now, I understand that people are worried about a large-scale public health arrangement – a guy in my shul showed me a referral the other day for a particular procedure. His appointment is July 9… 2015!! And I understand that people are worried they won’t be able to see their own doctors.
But if you took the extra money people are spending on insurance and increased the health tax, you could easily ensure that it didn’t take a year to get a basic procedure done. And you’d have everyone covered.
How have our health ministers received your ideas? Is there any interest?
They say I have a Beilinson complex (meaning he is jealous of Beilinson Hospital in Tel Aviv – AT). You know, Beilinson did get a cat scan machine two years before we did.
They’re right. All the data show that the periphery gets less money, and well after the center of the country. But that’s true everywhere. The only way to change it, apparently, is if a private person decides to change it and donate’s huge money.
Ross Perot did it in Dallas – he decided that the University of Texas needed an MD/PhD program, so he decided to bring the best researchers, gave them a blank check, built a housing complex for the research staff, and what do you know? Top researchers couldn’t wait to take him up on the offer.
If the government did that here in Negev, if they offered top Hadassah researchers more money and better conditions than they currently have at Ein Karem,they’d pack up and move here in a second.
But it won’t happen. There are people who could follow Ross Perot’s model – Sheldon Adelson could do it, instead of throwing $40 million on political campaigns. But it isn’t a priority.