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From Overcoming Medical Hurdles in Israel: A Guide On The Israeli Medical System

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Moving to a new country can be an exhilarating yet challenging experience, especially when it comes to navigating the healthcare system. This rings particularly true for Olim Chadashim, the new immigrants to Israel, who not only have to adapt to a different culture and language but also need to understand and access the Israeli medical system effectively. For those who were already on medication before making the move, the need for continuity in healthcare and accessing necessary medications becomes even more crucial.

In this article, we will explore two vital aspects of the Israeli medical system for Olim Chadashim. Firstly, we will delve into understanding the Israeli healthcare system, including an overview of the public and private options, the importance of health insurance (Kupat Holim), and the role of primary care physicians and specialists. Secondly, we will address the specific challenges faced by those who were on medication prior to their arrival in Israel and provide guidance on transferring medical records and prescriptions, registering with a Kupat Holim, accessing medications, and seeking specialist care.

Let’s go on to unravel the complexities of the Israeli medical system and empower Olim Chadashim to thrive in their new home.

Accessing Medications in Israel

When it comes to accessing medications in Israel, it is essential for Olim Chadashim to familiarize themselves with the process and navigate the healthcare system effectively.

Here are three key subtopics to consider:

Firstly, understanding the process for obtaining prescription medications is essential. In Israel, pharmacies play a significant role in medication dispensing. To fill a prescription, individuals will typically need to present a valid Kupat Holim card and the required prescription documentation. Pharmacies in Israel offer a range of medications, including over-the-counter and prescription drugs, ensuring accessibility for patients.

Secondly, comprehending the medication reimbursement system is vital. As part of the Israeli healthcare system, Kupat Holim provides reimbursement for medications. This reimbursement is based on a “Formulary” list, which outlines the medications covered by the healthcare system. Familiarizing oneself with this list and understanding the reimbursement rates can help individuals plan their healthcare expenses effectively, including potential out-of-pocket costs.

Lastly, ensuring the continuity of medication supply is crucial for individuals who were already on medication before moving to Israel. It is advisable to plan ahead and have an adequate supply of medication during the transition period. Renewing prescriptions in Israel requires obtaining new prescriptions from local healthcare providers.

Additionally, it is essential to be aware of potential medication substitutions and consult with healthcare professionals for guidance and alternatives to ensure uninterrupted access to necessary medications.

Understanding the Israeli Medical System

The Israeli medical system can initially appear complex, especially for Olim Chadashim who are new to the country. By gaining an understanding of its structure and key components, navigating the system becomes more manageable.

Here are other three important aspects to consider in this regard:

Firstly, it is important to familiarize oneself with the Israeli healthcare system, which consists of public and private options. The public healthcare system is primarily provided through health maintenance organizations known as Kupat Holim. These organizations, such as Clalit, Maccabi, Meuhedet, and Leumit, offer comprehensive healthcare services, including primary care physicians and specialist consultations. Private healthcare options are also available, typically offering a wider range of services but at higher costs.

Secondly, health insurance, known as Kupat Holim membership, is essential for accessing healthcare services in Israel. Upon arrival, Olim Chadashim are required to choose and register with a specific Kupat Holim. The chosen Kupat Holim then provides primary healthcare services, referrals to specialists, and coverage for medications and treatments. Each Kupat Holim has its own network of clinics, hospitals, and affiliated healthcare providers.

Lastly, primary care physicians, known as “Kupat Holim doctors,” play a central role in the Israeli medical system. They serve as the first point of contact for patients, providing general medical care, referrals to specialists, and prescribing medications. Establishing a relationship with a primary care physician is important, as they oversee patients’ overall healthcare and coordinate specialized care as needed.

Transferring Medical Records and Prescriptions

For Olim Chadashim who were on medication or received medical treatment before moving to Israel, it is important to transfer their medical records and prescriptions to ensure continuity of care.

Obtaining translated and certified copies of medical records is very important. Before departing from their home country, individuals should request their medical records from their previous healthcare providers. It is advisable to have these records translated into Hebrew or English to facilitate communication with Israeli healthcare professionals. Certified translations can be obtained through translation services or authorized translators.

It’s important to keep in mind that transferring prescriptions to Israel requires careful planning. Prior to arrival, it is recommended to consult with healthcare providers in the home country to determine the feasibility of obtaining extended supplies of medication or obtaining prescriptions that can be filled in Israel. Having an ample supply of medication during the transition period is vital until new prescriptions can be obtained in Israel.

Upon arrival in Israel, Olim Chadashim should register with a chosen Kupat Holim. We cannot emphasize this enough!

During the registration process, it is essential to provide copies of the translated and certified medical records. These records will assist Israeli healthcare professionals in understanding the individual’s medical history and providing appropriate care.

Remember that proactive communication with healthcare providers in Israel is key. Upon registration with a Kupat Holim, scheduling appointments with primary care physicians is recommended to discuss existing medical conditions, medications, and treatment plans.

Also, the Israeli healthcare system emphasizes continuity of care, and healthcare professionals will work to ensure appropriate management of ongoing treatments and prescriptions.

Seeking Specialist Care

For Olim Chadashim in need of specialized medical care, understanding the process and navigating the Israeli healthcare system is essential.

In Israel, primary care physicians, known as “Kupat Holim doctors,” serve as the gateway to specialist care. To access specialized medical services, individuals usually require a referral from their primary care physician. These referrals ensure that patients receive appropriate care from specialists who have expertise in their specific medical condition. Communicating openly with the primary care physician about the need for specialized care is crucial for obtaining the necessary referral.

When you need to find and schedule appointments with specialists, this can be facilitated by many means. Israeli healthcare providers often operate within specific networks or hospitals affiliated with the chosen Kupat Holim. Utilizing the resources provided by the Kupat Holim, such as online directories or customer service representatives, can help identify appropriate specialists within the network. Scheduling appointments can be done by contacting the specialist’s office directly or through the assistance of the primary care physician.

Patients have the right to actively participate in their healthcare decisions and ask questions about recommended treatment plans. Seeking a second opinion from another specialist can provide valuable insights and ensure confidence in the proposed course of action. Open communication, sharing relevant medical records, and discussing concerns with healthcare providers contribute to a collaborative approach to care.

Private Insurance

We couldn’t finish this article without mentioning our trusty insurance providers:

Health Advize:

Health Advize is an Israeli based Medical Advocacy and consulting company.  We help English Speakers navigate the Israeli health care system, maximize medical benefits, and find the doctors and services that are right for you and your loved ones

Aviva Yoselis, MPH,  BCPA is the CEO and lead consultant of Health Advize, founded the company after seeing so many new (and established) immigrants fall through the cracks, and not receive the health benefits to which they were entitled.  She has over 25 years of experience in health advocacy and health systems navigation.

Benefits R’ Us:

Navigating the Israeli Bureaucratic System is extremely challenging.  We hold your hand from beginning to end giving you a greater chance of success.  We have a 95% success rate.  We make Government Benefits Simpler!

Lacking the knowledge, the language, and even knowing if you are eligible, can make it very frustrating in a new Country.  We make the entire process easier, let us try to assist you in finding out all the rights and services you might be eligible for.  Additionally, there are many programs that can also help you in getting the benefits you deserve.  We have the experience and the results, let Benefits R’ Us guide you to success.


As Olim Chadashim embark on their new journey in Israel, navigating the healthcare system and accessing necessary medications and specialized care may initially seem challenging.

However, armed with knowledge, preparation, and proactive engagement, Olim Chadashim can confidently navigate the Israeli medical system and ensure continuity of care for their well-being.

Throughout this journey, it is important for Olim Chadashim to remember that they are not alone. Community organizations, fellow Olim, and healthcare professionals are available to provide support and guidance. Building a network of support, embracing the vibrant startup ecosystem in Israel, and adapting to the cultural norms within the healthcare system will foster a smoother transition and enhance the overall experience.

With resilience, proactive engagement, and an optimistic mindset, Olim Chadashim can successfully navigate the Israeli medical system and ensure their health and well-being in their new home. By seizing the opportunities for quality healthcare and embracing the innovative spirit of Israel, Olim Chadashim can thrive and contribute to the vibrant fabric of Israeli society.

Welcome to Israel, where a world of possibilities awaits your continued success and well-being!

Picture of Chaim Apsan
Chaim Apsan

Chaim is the Interactive Media Coordinator of Olim Paveway. Having made Aliyah 8 years ago, he now works writing articles and taking care of the technical aspects of the website.

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