Israel's Health Minister Yael German must now decide whether Israel's hospitals should be forced to curtail a business that has become an increasing part of their profits, that of medical tourism.
According to a report by USA Today, people from Eastern Europe, the U.S. and Cyprus have been coming to both Israel’s private and public hospitals over the past several years to receive high-quality medical treatment at relatively low cost. But this cash windfall has caused many to question the potential harmful impact this windfall could have on the present Israeli healthcare system.
Though public hospitals refused to reveal what percentage of their wards are turned over to foreigners, they do say that the curtailing of medical tourism would slash revenues that are used to improve treatments for everyone. Critics of the policy say that Israelis have to wait months for beds to open up due to the influx of out-of-country admissions.
Calin Shapira, deputy director at the Ziv Medical Center in the north of Israel, said "You need to make sure you don't receive too many from overseas in order to keep treating Israelis," he said, "but medical tourism is important."
But there are many who worry that what is being created is a two-tiered medical system, where the those who pay top dollar get the cream, while the Israeli’s will have to suffice with the whey.