Some 14,000 refugees from Ukraine who have arrived in Israel since the outbreak of the war with Russia are no longer eligible to receive health care services starting Wednesday, after their medical insurance coverage expired - and the Finance Ministry has not extended its validity.
First reported by Ynet, in some hospitals, notices have already gone out stating that continued treatment for the refugees must be carried out without funding. Sources familiar with the details have characterized this as a "significant humanitarian crisis."
The Welfare and Social Affairs Ministry has confirmed that the funding was not extended, and has also called on the Prime Minister's Office to intervene. "Unfortunately, the government did not extend the medical insurance funding, and we urge both the Finance Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office to promptly address this issue."
"For a year and a half, the ministry implemented the Israeli government's decision to provide humanitarian assistance to war refugees from Ukraine residing in the country, as should be done during times of conflict," the Welfare and Social Affairs Ministry added. "To provide this assistance, the ministry's budget has been set at 100 million shekels ($26.9 million), a budget that will aid some 83,000 Ukrainian citizens. Eighty percent of this budget will be allocated for health insurance coverage and medical services. It is noted that, at this stage, the ministry will continue to provide welfare and housing assistance in emergency cases for the war refugees from Ukraine residing in Israel."
Ukrainian refugees in Israel have two types of insurance coverage: for individuals over the age of 60 and for those under 60. Responsibility for medical care for individuals age 60 and below rests with the Clalit Health Care fund, and the budget for insurance coverage has been denied.
According to the interim order for assistance to Ukrainian citizens residing in Israel, refugees over the age of 60 and individuals with disabilities are supposed to receive insurance coverage through the Menora insurance company, which is linked to the National Health Insurance Fund that provides them with health care services. Their insurance coverage also expired overnight, and the Finance Ministry did not instruct the insurance company to extend it.
Between 3,500 to 4,000 refugees in this category have arrived in Israel. The administration responsible for Ukrainian refugees under the Welfare and Social Affairs Ministry is aware that the insurance coverage for refugees has not been extended. The insurance company initially attempted to extend coverage until September 30, but so far there has been no success due to the lack of a decision from the Treasury on the matter.
Around 14,000 Ukrainian citizens who fled to Israel since the outbreak of the war are residing here without the protection of the Law of Return. Among them, approximately 4,000 individuals are over the age of 60. This is in addition to about 20,000 Ukrainian citizens who were already here before the conflict and are unable to return home. While both these groups are shielded from deportation and remain temporarily in Israel, according to a report by the ASSAF organization on the situation of refugees and asylum seekers in Israel, "the aid that the state has provided to assist some of them is gradually diminishing, and the plight of the refugees is worsening."