The roughly 250,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel today are getting on in years, and many of them require medical care. But in 2007, only 16 percent of them are receiving free treatment and medication.
Data attained by Ynet reveals that only some 40,000 Holocaust survivors are recognized as handicapped, a designation determined by various medical committees, which allows them free health care for ailments resulting from the conditions they suffered during the war years.
New studies show that Holocaust survivors often suffer from more severe health problems than typical for their age group.
For example, a recent study found that 49 percent of survivors aged 60 and above suffer high blood pressure, compared to 37 percent of elderly who did not experience Holocaust.
Survivors are also plagued by emotional difficulties two to three times more than average. Dr. Lital Keinan-Boker, who participated in the study, noted, "When we counted the number of chronic ailments, we found that Holocaust survivors suffered from four or more, which was clearly higher than average."
Some 11,000 Holocaust survivors have Clalit Health Services insurance. "In our assessment, the number of clients eligible for benefits is significantly higher," said Deputy Director-General of the Clalit Health Services Eli Dafas in a letter sent recently to the Finance and Health Ministries. This is significant, as 70 percent of Israel's elderly are insured at the Clalit HMO.
'Failure in Finance Ministry'There are currently two bodies charged with managing the medical committees which determine whether survivors meet "handicapped" criteria: The Bureau for the Rehabilitation of the Handicapped and the Office for Personal Compensation from Abroad. Both are under the Finance Ministry.
After the committees process Holocaust survivors' requests, approvals are transferred to the HMOs. Representatives of the two largest HMOs, Clalit and Maccabi, said that the patients files are immediately updated and the patients are eligible for free services with no further paperwork.
Dafas, however, says that many survivors fail to get the free services they are approved for because the Finance Ministry fails to transfer the documentation to the HMOs.