Eretz Yisrael Time

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Sunday, September 05, 2010
1. Health funds (Kupot Cholim). I've praised Israeli health funds in the past, but I am going to revise and edit that opinion in a longer post sometime in the near future.

In the meantime I'll say that while Israeli HMOs are excellent for the day to day stuff, if someone get sick with something more serious than strep or an ear ache, there is a big difference between the HMOs, their capabilities, and their policies.

New Olim: Stay far, far away from the Maccabi Health Fund. Without a doubt this is the worse HMO in Israel. I can't emphasize that enough.

Which HMO instead? I'm not yet sure. My wife is in Clallit. She's happy, but she also knows how to push within the system to get what she needs (and she couldn't make any headway at all within Maccabi, which says a lot right there).

But I now think that every family should absolutely supplement their government required HMO policy with private insurance.

For years I had BUPA (from the UK). It was expensive, but over the years they refunded every claim I made.

I don't have any recent experience with them, so I can't specifically recommend them, but when evaluating different private insurance programs for Israel, I would certainly use them as the base line in terms of comparing coverage.

2. Rosh Hashana shopping. Over the years we discovered that on average Rami Levy generally has the best prices. Last year their prices went up a bit, but he seems to have found his calling again.

We've been hearing a lot about a place called "Osher Ad" (there's one on Beit Hadfus street in Jerusalem). It is supposed to have amazing prices.

So we went there to check it out. It's a large supermarket for Jerusalem. The aisles are extra wide. There's two or three times the length between the shelves and the checkout counters compared to regular Israeli supermarkets so you don't feel crowded in once your done.

They have a wide selection (wider than Rami Levy on many items). And everything is Mehadrin, which I prefer.

In terms of prices, the answer is not so straight forward.

Their prices on chicken's and meats seem to be a little higher. But they have a much wider selection of Mehadrin meats - including American-style cuts.

The main advantage is that they have numerous discounts when you buy items in volume.

Shopping is apparently geared to the Chareidi market with their large families. If you are feeding a family of 10, then no doubt Osher Ad, with all their volume discounts is going to come out cheaper. But if you are buying one of each for a smaller family, and not in bulk, I'm going to stick with Rami Levy which is closer, and I think cheaper.

But when I'm looking for those American-style cuts of meat, it's good to know you can pick up a (good) Mehadrin London Broil and Roast Beef at Osher Ad.


Michael Sedley said...

Not sure what your problem has been with Maccabi, but I would say that the Kupa that you belong to depends a lot on where you live.

Here in Modi'in Maccabi has excelent facilities, they just moved into a new large building with experienced doctors and top equipment.
Most of the Doctors in Modiin belong to Maccabi and we have been very happy with their service (have been members of Maccabi for almost 20 years).

That said, if you lie on a Yeshuv with only one clinic, it would make the most sense to be part of that Kupa.

jumblerant said...


What went wrong with Maccabi? I've been with them for 7 years, baby was born into their HMO and we've received only the best service from them.

JoeSettler said...

Maccabi was fine for all the normal stuff. I said that already.

But - when we needed some specialists, it turns out their list is extremely limited. The few specialists they have, have no appointment spaces for months. And the specialists on their list are not the ones who are considered the top of their fields.

Furthermore, when we had to go to specialists not on their list (because none on their list was available for months), despite telling us they would refund us 80% of the cost if they have no specialist available, afterwords they told us they won't refund us anything because there is a specialist (in the general field, not the specific field) on their list while ignoring the fact that the next open appointment time with him is in months from now.

It has been a nightmare.

Furthermore, when we had to go for tests in the hospital, one of their "specialists" wrote a request (hafnaya) for some standard (but expensive) tests.

But (it turns out) their specialist wasn't authorized to request those tests (despite it being his general specialty). AND he wouldn't offer us the other (better) tests, because he said Maccabi would never approve them, so "don't waste your time".

So when we got to the hospital we found out we didn't have the proper authorization (hafnaya) to run these tests.

My wife called up every Macabbi office for two hours, screaming at them until they found us a doctor who could sign off on the tests that their specialists required and fax it over.

Thank God everything is better now, but that is because we went to private doctors at our own expense.

Anonymous said...

We have been with Maccabi ever since we made aliyah in 2001 and have been very happy with them. I have had some serious surgery, and my husband has had and is still having major medical problems. We have no complaints about the doctors or the service we have received. According to the nurses at Tel Hashomer, my surgeon was the best in Israel, and my husbands cardiologist is one of the only two specialists in Israel for his particular problem. There may be better HMO's, but we'll stick to Maccabi, where we know we will get excellent care and service.

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