The Haredi Institute for Public Affairs is publishing a new study on the medical expenses of Israeli households and reveals significant gaps between the haredi sector and the general public. 13% of interviewees from the haredi sector reported refraining from medical treatments for economic reasons, compared to just 8% from the general public. A much higher figure – 53% of haredi interviewees – responded that they refrain from dental treatments due to economic difficulties, compared to 32% of the general population. This study also found that while most haredim do not have private medical insurance, a high percentage do buy the supplementary coverage offered by the HMO health care services. The rate of those covered by the supplementary insurance plans is high among all the economic clusters in haredi society, regardless of their income level. The researchers in this study attempted to answer the question as to why the haredim focus on supplementary health insurance.
The prevailing ideology in Judaism is that illnesses that afflict a person are caused by divine providence. As such, the question begs as to the permissibility of accepting medical aid, if, as noted, the illnesses are a decree from heaven and the will of the Creator. These questions were already being discussed by the Talmudic sages. From various sources, we can learn that the prevailing approach since ancient times is that not only is there permission to heal, but that this is also a commandment and an obligation, and that medical actions do not contradict the will of the Creator, but rather the opposite – as the Torah states, “he shall surely cure.” Concerning health insurance, the prevailing attitude is that there is no halachic impediment to purchasing insurance.
On the background of these and other questions, the Haredi Institute for Public Affairs is publishing a new study conducted by Nitsa (Kaliner) Kasir (formerly a senior researcher for the Bank of Israel and a member on various government committees) and Dmitri Romanov (former chief scientist for the Central Bureau of Statistics). The study examines health insurance and medical expenses on drugs and various treatments and compares the rate of the average expenses of the household in the haredi sector and in the general and Arab sectors, and showcases important data on the extent of the compromises for economic reasons and the forgoing of medical and dental treatments.