Hospitals and medical centres are the main health service facilities in Israel. Hospitals in Israel provide the most extensive amount of care, including consultations, diagnostic tests, lab work, surgery and emergency care. Medical centres offer highly-specialised care and surgery.
In some cases, hospitals run medical schools. At these hospitals, doctors and surgeons teach in addition to seeing patients.
All major cities have multiple hospitals. For example, Tel Aviv has nine major hospitals which offer standard and specialised medical procedures as well as research and development. Jerusalem has five major hospitals which offer similar services. Regardless of your city, you should be able to find a hospital accepted by your health insurance which offers good care.
English-speaking hospitals in Israel
English is a semi-official language in Israel, and many doctors and nurses will be able to speak English. The Hadassah Medical Centre in Jerusalem and the Chaim Sheba Medical Centre in Tel Aviv require their nurses and doctors to know English. Nazareth Hospital in Nazareth is known as the “English hospital” and provides services in Hebrew, English, Arabic and Russian. Shaare Zedek Medical Centre in Jerusalem staffs many English-speakers.
Many other hospitals and medical centres in Israel translate their websites into English, and online appointment requests are available in English. This does not guarantee you will be seen by an English-speaking doctor or nurse, however. Patients who don't speak Hebrew should specifically request to see medical personnel who can speak English.
Public and private hospitals
Hospitals and medical centres can be public or private. The Israeli government finances public hospitals, and health funds run them. Most health funds share facilities, which means that patients have a wide range of access to hospitals and medical centres. Private facilities are funded by non-governmental organisations and employ private practitioners. Both public and private hospitals offer quality treatments, although facilities and patient care are better in private hospitals.
If you have public health insurance, you will go to a public hospital. Patients in public hospitals share rooms, and facilities are often loud because doctors and nurses constantly check patients. Cafeteria food is unappetizing (to say the least), and hospitals limit visiting hours to a few hours per day. Despite the substandard services, the healthcare is equivalent to private hospitals.
At a private hospital, patients may have private rooms. These are more like hotel rooms than hospital rooms. Television and internet access are standard, cafeteria facilities are available for visitors and offer restaurant-quality food, and some hospitals allow visitors an extra bed to stay overnight with patients.
If you are uninsured, you may go to any hospital. However, you must pay all bills yourself - and health care in Israel is expensive! If possible, sign up for either public or private insurance.
Special treatments and surgeries available in Israeli hospitals include (but are not limited to):
- cardiothoracic surgery
- bone marrow transplants
- disease diagnosis
- oral surgery and maxillary rehabilitation
- dialysis treatment
- gynaecology and obstetrics
- neonatal care
- nursing care
To see a specialist at a hospital, you must first make an appointment. Most hospitals will allow you to make an appointment by phone or online.
In addition to major surgery facilities, hospitals also offer smaller department clinics. They will perform non-invasive surgeries.
National health insurance pays for procedures such as general surgery and diagnostic tests. Special procedures like radiology therapy and outpatient care may be covered under supplemental coverage. The amount of care and coverage you receive depends on your fund and supplemental insurance. Patients who do not have supplemental coverage will be required to pay for such services.
Private insurance premiums cover most healthcare costs, as well as patient care.