How I received full service medical care in Israel for $10

So here’s the thing. I hurt my pinky. Yes, that little finger on the end that seems so insignificant until you hurt it and then you realize that everything you do needs a pinky. Everything from doing housekeeping to holding a pen to walking (swinging your arms actually hurts your pinky) to using the shift button on the right side of the keyboard which is why I will not be using any capital letters in this post unless the editor changes them for me automatically.

Hold my hand so that my pinky doesn't hurt
Can you please hold my hand for me so that my pinky doesn’t hurt?


I woke up yesterday morning, saw that my pinky had moved out of place (this was a sleep related injury so let’s not make a big deal out of it please). I went to work and as the day went on things got worse, not better, as I had hoped. I went online to make an appointment with my family doctor.

My pinky yesterday
My pinky yesterday

You see, in the Israeli medical system, one can actually go online, enter the location and type of doctor you want to see, choose the time slot that works for you, and then show up for your appointment. The whole process takes a matter of minutes to complete.

Meuhedet is my health care insurer and this is their online system
Meuhedet is my health care insurer and this is an example of their online system where you click below the arrow to make appointments or above to see your medical records

My family doctor told me to just go to the main medical building in Jerusalem where they offer a wide range of medical services that you would normally find in an ER, minus the emergency room wait time.

So I picked up my sister,, and off we went (road trip!) to get some medical care for my pinky.

The one thing the medical system can't give you: the support of a sister
The medical system requires that you bring your own sister

When we arrived at the medical building we were immediately sent to the orthopedic department on the third floor. We waited a total of 15 minutes to see an orthopedic specialist and it cost me the entire equivalent of $8.

The medical system in Israel uses the method of personal participation in your medical costs so that at every appointment you attend, you pay a nominal fee. This participation figures in to costs of services rendered and helps cover a lot of the administrative expenses relating to the medical system and seems to minimize appointments being made for no good reason.

I was sent to the other side of the floor where the x-ray department is, which cost me the shekel equivalent of $2 and had a waiting time of approximately 10 minutes. After that I returned to the third floor where the doctor had my x-rays on his computer screen, in my file, ready and waiting.

Now let me just take a moment to talk about equal opportunity employment and supposed apartheid in Israel. Not only does the Israeli medical care extend to every citizen of Israel, regardless of religion, but I couldn’t help but notice that the doctor and the x-ray technician who provided medical care for me were Israeli Arabs, the secretary was ultra orthodox and the nurse was an ultra orthodox male who doesn’t even look at women for religious reasons and still somehow succeeded in giving me excellent care. Just saying.

Unfortunately, (probably due to a culture gap or their inability to see the humor in the situation) they didn’t really understand why kept laughing hysterically throughout the entire medical proceeding whereas to me it was so clear that the stress of watching them push and pull my bruised swollen finger made her giggle uncontrollably.

The good news is that my pinky wasn’t dislocated this time, just a contusion. I say ‘this time’ because in actual fact, this incident is the sequel to my story called: “How I hurt my pinky. Part 1” yet to have been written.

The first injury was a few years ago when I fell on my hand and got up to find, much to my own horror, that my pinky had dislocated. At that time I had gone through the same round of orthopedic care, x-rays and finally the localized freezing of my finger while they pushed it back into place. The first time I went with my older sister Miriam aka who instead of giggling under stress, yells out things like, “OMG I can’t believe it! Ahhhh!!”

(By the way, I just used the shift button twice.)

My pinky the first time round
My pinky the first time around

Could it be that I needed to injure myself twice in order to truly appreciate what an amazing health care system Israel offers at our disposal?

Personally, coming from Canada, a socialistic country with a health care system in place, I really do appreciate the Israeli system even more than most people do. Those feelings were reinforced recently when I was speaking to a close family member who lives in Canada and who expressed their frustration at the lengthy and inefficient process they needed to go through to get any level of medical care in Canada. Israel has already taught Canada how to manage their airport security it might just be time for them to learn a thing or two from Israel about modernization and efficiency of their health care system as well. Just saying.

You see, in this amazing system anyone who is a citizen of Israel is entitled to equal medical care. They can see any doctor they want, granted, they will likely have to wait a period of time if it is a service or doctor that is in high demand. The system seems to be fair to doctors and patients alike by requiring doctors to work for the public sector but also allowing them the option to practice privately. What this means for the general public is that they have access and equal care to all services available should they need it but if they do have the money, they can definitely cash in on their good fortune by getting the care they want faster.

I personally have had plenty of experience using the medical care system in Israel so I know for a fact that if you know how to use it properly you can go far.

Two other things that make the system here so efficient:

  1. Extended coverage: If you have money, but not that much money, you can opt for extended health care coverage. You can pay an extra amount annually to receive better options such as seeing a private doctor and getting refunded a large percentage of the visit from your insurance provider among other benefits.
  2. Competition: The health care system is government funded but is managed by a few smaller insurance companies that are forced to compete with each other to provide optimal services forcing them to vie for your patronage.

I forgot to mention two other costs  that I incurred during my pinky fixing pilgrimage. I paid 7 shekels for a chocolate bar from the vending machine and 13 shekels for my pain killers at the Meuchedet pharmacy, a miniscule amount considering that even my meds were subsidized.

The grand finale is that they sent me home with a referral for physiotherapy which I was able to immediately use to set up my first appointment out of eight, through my health care provider, for this Friday, with a physiotherapist located within ten minutes of my home.


About the Author
Devora Mason is a single mom of five who works in business development focusing on unique Israeli technology,and Innovation, specializing in subjects from AR/VR to the stars and back! Her life experiences lead her to write about social issues and people that she encounters in Israel. As a consultant she enjoys her work with Israeli startups and corporate entities and is currently the VP of Global partnerships at StellarNova, a female founded startup focusing on STEM blended education and media content for kids.