OV1002 / Version 1.1 / 18.05.2023 / English
According to the National Health Insurance Law of 1994, every Israeli resident is entitled to health care services through one of the four Kupot Cholim ( קופות חולים) Health Care Providers, which are, in order of size, Clalit, Maccabi, Meuchedet and Leumit. In the past, mental health care services fell under the responsibility of the Government rather than the Kupot.
In June 2015 Israel underwent HaReforma BeBriut HaNefesh (הרפורמה בבריאות הנפש) Mental Health Care Reform, which transferred the responsibility for providing mental health care services from the Government to the Kupot Cholim. Click here for a brief explanation.
These are multidisciplinary clinics that provide psychiatric, psychological and rehabilitation services. Clinic staff members include psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and may also include occupational therapists, art therapists and dietitians. Within the clinics there is potential for consultation between the different caregivers. Centers may offer a wider range of services, including group therapy sessions. There is no fee for services in these centers, beyond the fees required for Kupa membership.
Independent psychiatrists are affiliated with the Kupot and are located either within the Kupat Holim, or in their own private clinics. Some clients find it more discreet to meet a psychiatrist at a private clinic rather than at a multidisciplinary Mirpa’at Briut HaNefesh ( מרפאת בריאות הנפש) Mental Health Clinic. There is generally no fee for psychiatric services in this setting, beyond the fee for consulting a specialist through your Kupa.
(Similarly, most Kupot employ Independent Psychologists who provide psychological services in private clinics. Consultation with Independent Psychologists often entails a subsidized fee.)
Most major hospitals in Israel and all of the mental health care hospitals provide psychiatric services through their outpatient clinics. Since the implementation of the reform, in some cases it is possible to receive a referral as well as a financial commitment to subsidize treatment (‘Tofes 17”) from your Kupa to receive service in an outpatient setting. Your Kupa may restrict the number of sessions that you receive in such a setting. Reasons for being referred to an outpatient clinic might include long waiting times for Kupa services, or specialty services at the Outpatient Clinics are not available through the Kupa.
Emergency psychiatric services are provided in every emergency room in Israel, including the ERs of psychiatric as well as general hospitals. It is important to remember that there is a psychiatrist on site or on call at all hospitals, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including weekends, holidays etc. Emergency services are free of charge in cases of suicidal ideation, drug poisoning/ intoxication, or psychosis. There may be a fee for services in other cases.
There are several advantages to public psychiatry. The following are points to consider:
Alongside the public service, psychiatric services are also provided by private psychiatrists. There is a fee for private psychiatric consultation.
Advantages of choosing care in the private sector might include:
Private clinics may be more discrete. Private psychiatrists do not have access to your Kupat Holim records and do not update these records with your medical information.
Often there are long waiting lists for services in the public setting. Private psychiatrists may have greater availability.
In the private setting you can directly choose a therapist/psychiatrist. This might be especially significant when looking for English-speaking therapists, for example.
There may be more flexibility of hours and scheduling with a private therapist.
If you are visiting in Israel and are not covered by local health insurance you may not have access to services through the Kupot Cholim.