- The medical tourism worldwide has a turnover of over 100 billion dollars/yearly. In Israel the volume is upto 1 billion dollars only.
- German Committee’s recommendation were not examined extensively: the medical tourism adds some IS 400 million to the hospitals’ yearly income enabling them to purchase new medical equipment which cannot be purchased from the Israeli tax payer’s revenues or from the government budget benefiting the Israeli citizens from the new equipment.
- Medical tourism counts for less than 1% of the Israeli patients. In view of the Budget Law’s objective to limit the medical tourism in Israel, and determine charges for the providers of medical tourism services, the Israeli Medical Tourism Association established, together with the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, a new professional sector. Members of the association are business owners highly experienced in directing and accompanying medical tourists from all over the world, to medical centers in Israel.
The medical tourism company is responsible for marketing the Israeli medicine in the destination countries, providing initial medical consultancy to the tourist prior to his arrival to Israel, putting together a treatment plan, arranging the medical treatment in Israel with all the involved logistics. The medical tourism companies safeguards the rights of the foreign patients, provides professional translations of the entire medical process to the patient’s native language and coordinates the suitable treatments. The company includes a team of doctors who examine all the medical candidates before their arrival to Israel. In fact the company is a kind of “kupat holim” with a doctor, directing the patient to expert doctors, and as per their recommendation to operations and special health care.
According to Mr. Mark Katzenelson, Chairman of the Medical Tourism Association and CEO of Sapir Medical Group “the medical tourism has a yearly turnover over 100 billion dollars while the turnover in Israel is only 1 billion dollar. Nevertheless the income to the hospitals in Israel from this area is some IS 400 million per year, enabling the hospital to purchase new medical equipment which cannot be purchased from the Israeli tax payer’s revenues or from the government budget benefiting the Israeli citizens from the new equipment.
He added “medical tourism covers less than 1% of the Israeli patients, and a medical tourist has no privileges in making appointments; he awaits the same time as the Israeli citizen would for the requested appointment. The tourist simply arrives to Israel nearer to his treatment time”.
According to Mr. Lior Kraskin, CE0 of the Medical Tourism Association “A medical tourist brings in the country’s treasury 6 times as much than the regular tourist. In most cases medical tourists stay in Israel for a longer period and they are usually joined by their families. Each patient who is treated successfully in Israel is a good ambassador especially at these times when
Israel is politically attacked worldwide. For instance, during “Operation Protective Edge” regular tourists did not travel to Israel whereas medical tourists continued to arrive”.
Mr. Kraskin went on: “contrary to the welfare’s opinion, a medical tourist does not replace the Israeli patient since in most cases he is willing to take treatments during the evening hours or on week-ends. Currently most of the burden in the public hospitals is at the emergency and internal wards which are less relevant to the medical tourist”.
According to Mr. Ronen Solomon, Sector Manager, the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce: “German committee’s conclusions were not examined extensively. It is likely that a medical tourist uses the medical equipment purchased by the Israeli tax-payer, but he is paying heavily for the rendered services versus the Israeli patient, enabling the hospitals to purchase better and more sophisticated equipment from which the Israeli patient benefits”.
Mr. Solomon added “the medical tourism sector also contributes to Israel’s trade balance in the export of services and is an essential factor in preserving good doctors and reputable surgeons who would have left the country for more lucrative positions abroad”.
Israel is one of the leading countries in the volume of service exports, in particular medical services, and for many years now the surplus in the services’ account is covering for the deficit in the merchandise’ account, bringing about a surplus in the payment balance of Israel. Certain countries already realized the potential of medical tourism. Turkey has invested this year some $200 million in the promotion of medical tourism. Germany as well invests in encouraging medical tourism. Today the U.S. is considered the leading country in the world in medical services and other countries with very advanced medical standards are aiming at attracting medical tourists.
“Israeli medical institutions are very advanced in relation to other countries in the world and the standard of doctors is very high. Damaging the medical tourism could result in the flight of reputable “medical minds” to other locations abroad, consequently deteriorating the medicine standard in Israel”, – stated Mr. Solomon.