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Israel's population is a mere 5,842,000, which would put it in between the state of Tennessee (5,689,283) and the state of Washington (5,894,121). The infant mortality rate is 7.9 deaths/1,000 live births, a full point worse than in the US. Life expectancy at birth is, however, better than in the US, at 76.57 years for men (2-1/2 years better) and, for women, 80.67 years (about 2/3 of a year better.). Overall, this would have to rate as comparable results for their health system.

Israel's GDP per capita is low compared to most European countries, at $18,300. In 1997, they spent 8.4% of their GDP on health care. This figure is out of date, so let's assume current expenditure is nearer 9%, just to be reasonable. This would make the expenditure about $1650, or about 38% of our $4373.

The National Health Insurance Law, which went into effect in January of 1995, gives the state the responsibility of providing health services for all residents. Four organizations which had, prior to this law, provided health insurance to a majority of residents are incorporated into the new system. The law says that these organizations cannot now bar any applicant on any ground, including age or state of health. The organizations are required to supply all the services included in a comprehensive list determined by the law. In addition to the obvious hospitalization and medicines, also included are perventive dental care for children, medical treatment of alcohol and drug abuse problems, and paramedical services such as occupational and physical therapy.

Financing is complicated. First, there are compulsory premiums collected directly from the insured, set at 3.1% of the portion of the salary equal to half the average wage, and 4.8% of the balance of the salary, up to four times the average wage. the government may increase the services covered on the comprehensive list, but may not reduce them unless specifically authorized by a standing committee of the Knesset. Health care organizations may offer supplementary insurance for services not included in the comprehensive package. The ministry of Health supervises the equality and availability of medical services supplied by the health-care organizations, and runs a public complaints office.

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