The Israeli Health System for Students


The Israeli health system for students is based on a national, socialist healthcare system.There is excellent medical care available in Israel. However, the student needs to learn how to access the care.

This means that there are two tiers to the system. 1st tier – health care through national insurance (or tourist insurance). 2nd tier – private medicine. There is also a serious shortage of specialists throughout the country, especially outside major cities.

When specialists are needed is when the health system gets complicated for the average tourist.

Examples of Specialist Medical Care

  • Dermatologist – new onset acne. The family doctor writes a referral. Appointments can be made within 2 weeks. It is covered by the insurance.
  • Ophthalmologist – eye infection. The family doctor writes a referral. Appointments can be made within 2 weeks. It is covered by the insurance. Urgent appointments may be available sooner. 
  • Chronic stomachaches, nausea and/or constipation. After failing with family doctor’s treatment, symptoms continue. Family doctor writes a referral for a gastroenterologist. Some insurance plans include a gastro doctor with a clinic practice. Appointments can be made within 2 weeks. It is covered by the insurance.

Many tourist medical plans will cover specialists in a hospital ONLY in an outpatient public clinic. The wait to see a specialist can be 2-6 months!!! When this happens, EMA Care suggests the student/tourist go privately to a doctor. The wait to see a private physician can be 2-3 weeks, but some specialists can be seen within a few days. Depending on the hospital or specialist the cost is usually $200.00 - $500.00.

It’s important to note that American students and parents tend to prematurely request a specialist, which is consistent with US medical system of care. When a student has a suspected sinus infection, we are often asked to make an appointment with an eye, ears, and throat doctor. In the Israeli health care system a referral like this example is unnecessary, the wait would be months long, and is not an appropriate reason, in Israel, to see a specialist. The quickest and most effective way to be treated for sinusitis is through a family doctor.

There are times when a specialist is in fact needed, which is when EMA Care advocates for your student/child to have the visit covered by the student insurance plan.

When a school is partnered with EMA Care case management, we take charge of the student’s health care with explanation, patience, and coaching to help each student (and their parents) understand medical care for tourists in Israel.

EMA Care also helps maximize benefits and expedite appointments to assure a smoother process.

We urge parents to encourage your child’s Gap Year program to partner with EMA Care. Medical care for tourists or students in Israel can be excellent, but the health system is different in Israel. Patience is needed, but having a professional team to assist you through the process means better care, better utilization of insurance benefits, and better guidance and reassurance for parents.


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