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HaMoked to the Humanitarian Committee: the high cost of the new health insurance for Israeli stay permit holders will harm the most vulnerable; they must be granted status in Israel

Until recently, Palestinians living in Israel pursuant to nothing but stay permits – without status in Israel and without social security rights – were not entitled even to health insurance coverage. Under the new health regulations, which entered into force on August 1, 2016, such Palestinians are entitled to national health insurance coverage similar to that of Israeli citizens and residents. Joining the insurance is compulsory and the registration fee is very expensive. Furthermore, in many cases people who are entitled to join the insurance must wait for a long period of time before they may access the national health services.

Given the flaws in the current arrangement, HaMoked wrote to the Ministry of Interior’s humanitarian committee, which reviews humanitarian-based applications by Palestinians seeking status in Israel. In its letter, HaMoked noted that in a succession of recent petitions to the High Court of Justice (HCJ), the state objected to the grant of Israeli status in cases reviewed by the committee; the state claimed that even if previously there was reason to prefer giving Israeli status – with the entailed national health coverage – now it was enough to give only a stay permit, given that the new regulations satisfied the need for health insurance also for stay permit holders. HaMoked asserted that the state’s position could have fateful implications especially for the most vulnerable, such as the chronically ill who require immediate medical treatment, but would have to wait for 33 long months before they become eligible to receive health services under the regulations. Moreover, as mostly the people who apply to the humanitarian committee are poor, the policy of giving stay permits only would force them to join the expensive (and compulsory) insurance, and hence – accumulate debts to the health funds.

HaMoked urges the committee to consider the implications of the health regulations before making its decision in each case, and examine whether the applicants can afford the health insurance and the length of the waiting period until they can access health services under the insurance. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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