How to choose a health plan
For the first 12 months after you make aliyah, you are eligible for free basic health coverage. Afterwards, it is free if you are employed (if you are not employed, you need to pay bituach leumi). The HMOs also offer upgraded packages, called Mushlam and Platinum by Clalit and Magen Zahav and Maccabi Sheli by Maccabi. Mushlam costs about 30 shekels per month, Magen Zahav 40 shekels, Platinum 75 and Maccabi Sheli 82. With the basic packages, you have access to doctors at the local clinics and all necessary basic health services. Going up one package gives you a few more benefits, like consistent discounts on medication, one free visit a year to a dental hygienist, and a full reimbursement on the driving license health check-up (usually 100 shekels). Getting Platinum or Maccabi Sheli gives you more discounts, particularly on dental services[s1] .
For people on no medication, with no known health issues, who only occasionally see a doctor: stick with the free plan, Clalit and Maccabi both have conveniently-located clinics in Haifa, so there’s not much of a difference.
People on regular medication, including birth control: Get Mushlam/Magen Zahav, the discounts on medication make it worth it.
Women living in Haifa: Get Clalit, because there is an American olah gynecologist – Dr. Sandra Cohen-Weinstein – with office hours at the Lin Clinic in Kiryat Eliezer.
People with dental problems: Get Platinum or Maccabi Sheli.
If you have specific health issues, it’s a good idea to read the fine print and find out which plan is best for you. Feel free to call someone on tzevet klita for help sifting through things and making a decision.
It is very easy to make a doctor’s appointment on the website of the HMO or by calling its hotline, and basic visits at the neighborhood clinic are free and close to home, so don’t hesitate if you’re not feeling well. For some types of specialist doctors, you can make an appointment online, and for others you need a referral from your doctor. Most visits to a specialists cost only 22 shekels. If you are really sick and there are no available appointments at the clinic in the next day or two, try arguing with someone at the hotline or just showing up at the clinic and asking the front desk if someone can squeeze you in[s3] .
Soldiers: Have free health care through the army while serving, and afterwards are offered free Mushlam/Magen Zahav, or Platinum for the price of Mushlam for one year. If you do this, be careful: after one year, the price will go up to the regular one, so be sure to cancel it if you no longer want it.
Unlike in the US, here you will need a prescription for even the most basic and harmless medication. So make good use of free (cheap) clinic visits.
In most clinics, including Clalit’s clinic on Even Sina St in Hadar, there is also a pharmacy. If you’re planning a visit to the pharmacy, be sure to check the hours before assuming it will be open. Commercial pharmacies like superpharm accept different plans at different branches. The superpharm at the bottom of the German Colony accepts Maccabi; the one in Hadar accepts Clalit and Maccabi; the Newpharm in Hadar accepts Maccabi.
Birth control: Brands here are different from those abroad. Generally, when starting you on birth control, gynecologists will demand a blood test. Usually, doctors at the neighborhood clinics will either refuse to give you birth control (because they are not your gynecologist) or give you only 2-3 months worth of prescriptions. There’s also a new service on Clalit online that has been successful for some to request regular prescriptions via the website.
[s1]On maccabi zahav the dental hygienist costs 93 sheks
[s3]On maccabi doctor visits cost 7 shekels