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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2001 Jan;49(1):56-64.

The reform of the Israeli health care system: a comparison between older and younger consumers, one year and three years after its implementation.

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Aging Policy Unit, JDC-Brookdale Institute, Jerusalem, Israel.



One of the main objectives of the National Health Insurance Law, which was implemented in Israel in January 1995, was to increase equity among different population groups and improve services for weaker populations, such as older people. It is not clear, however, whether the law's goals are being achieved. This study aimed to examine changes in the satisfaction and perceived quality of healthcare services among older people one year and three years after enactment of the law, and to compare the satisfaction and perceptions of older people with those of young adults.


Two cross-sectional telephone surveys conducted by the JDC-Brookdale Institute.




Two random samples of the adult residents of Israel at the end of 1995 and at the end of 1997. Two hundred and eighteen older people (of 1,116 respondents) were included in the first survey, and 198 older people (of 1,205 respondents) were included in the second survey. Sixty-seven percent of older respondents in both surveys were 65 to 74 years old and the remaining 33% were 75 years old and over. Forty-three percent were men. Sixty-four percent reported having had at least one chronic illness. There were no differences between the two samples, with the exception of a higher percentage of new immigrants in the second survey.


Perception of changes in the level of services, satisfaction with services, and perceived quality of care (availability, accessibility, early detection procedures).


Older people felt there had been an improvement in the level of sick fund (who operate as health maintenance organizations [HMOs] in the United States) services since implementation of the law. The proportion reporting improvement increased from 13% in 1995 to 28% in 1997. At the same time, the proportion of older people who sensed a decline in the level of services also increased, albeit at a much lower rate (4% in 1995 and 8% in 1997). The percentage of younger adults reporting an improvement in services and the percentage reporting a decline were greater than the percentages of older people, in both surveys. Regarding access to services, 69% waited up to 15 minutes to see their physician and 56% received an appointment to see a specialist within one week; this was an improvement. While a higher proportion of younger adults received an appointment within a shorter time span in 1995, the gap had diminished by 1997. Most of the older people felt that the office hours of their family physicians, specialists, administrative services, and laboratories were convenient. The proportion of elderly reporting so increased between 1995 and 1997, and in both surveys was higher than among younger adults.


The study's findings show that older people perceived an improvement in a number of areas during the first three years of the law's implementation. Their experience was similar to that of younger adults and was even better in some areas. It is necessary to continue monitoring the impact of the law on the need for health services of vulnerable groups such as the chronically ill and disabled older people.

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