Israel ranks 6th worldwide for health efficiency

Source: Globes Newspaper

Israel is among the world’s six leading countries in health efficiency, according to the latest Health Care Efficiency Index published by Bloomberg. The index, published annually, rates the health care efficiency of 56 countries with life expectancies of over 70, per capita GDP of over $5,000, and populations of over five million. Israel was rated one place higher than in last year’s index. The five countries ahead of Israel in health care efficiency are Hong Kong, Singapore, Spain, Italy, and South Korea. At the bottom of the list are Bulgaria, the US, Azerbaijan, Russia, Serbia, and Brazil.

The Bloomberg index has three components, each of which is assigned a different weight: life expectancy (60%), national per capita health care spending as a proportion of GDP (30%), and per capita spending on health in dollars (10%). Israel’s weighted rating is 67, while Hong Kong tops the list with 87.3.

 The US is at the bottom of the ranking with a 29.6 rating because its life expectancy is only 79, despite spending 16.8% of GDP on health, mainly because of its expensive and largely private health system.

Israel’s life expectancy of 82.5 is among the world’s highest, putting it in a high place on various global health indices. Israel’s national (public and private) spending on health as a proportion of GDP is 7.3%, substantially lower than the 9% OECD average. Per capital health spending in Israel is $2,750, compared with the OECD average of nearly $4,000.

Although the gap between Israel’s high life expectancy and low health spending indicates an efficient health system, it also shows that the health achievements of which Israel boasts are unlikely to persist.

Public spending on health in Israel as a proportion of total national health spending has fallen to 63% at present, the lowest in the OECD, while private health spending has increased to 36%, compared with a 28% OECD average. This trend has resulted in neglect of investment in infrastructure and personnel in the health system in recent years, leading to increased use of private medicine. This means that some of the achievements of the health system in Israel are the result of private money – a trend that contributes to widening of social gaps and undermines the foundations of the public health system in Israel.

The inadequate public budget for the health system in Israel is reflected in a low number of hospital beds per 1,000 people (three beds, compared with the 4.7 OECD average), a low number of nurses per 1,000 people (five, compared with the 9.3 OECD average), and a low number of MRI devices per million residents (4.9, compared with an OECD average of almost 16). The hospital bed occupancy rate (number of hospitalization days in general wards, compared with the potential number) is among the highest in the OECD: 94, and compares with an OECD average of 75.

It is therefore possible that what Bloomberg currently describes as efficient actually shows that Israel’s health system is starting to decline.