Healthcare in Israel for Overseas Readers: A Series of Six Monographs

Israel’s healthcare system may have significant relevance and important lessons to lend to healthcare reform efforts in the United States and elsewhere. In 1995, Israel achieved a significant redesign of its healthcare system. Through the adoption of a National Health Insurance Law, Israel created an overall framework for its healthcare system, provided universal coverage and delineated a basic benefits package to which all citizens and permanent residents are entitled. Fifteen years later, with government-financed insurance coverage provided through four competing health plans, Israel’s per capita costs are less than half of those of the United States and its health outcomes are good.

To explore key lessons from the Israeli system for the US, the Pittsburgh-based Jewish Healthcare Foundation engaged the Smokler Center for Health Policy Research to prepare a series of monographs on selected issues in Israeli healthcare. In particular, the monographs offer in-depth analyses of how Israel addresses several questions that are relevant to current efforts to transform the US delivery system:

  1. What is the role of government in containing costs and promoting better services and outcomes of care within budget constraints?
  2. How do the structure and financing of Israeli health plans create incentives for care management, investment in primary care and cost containment?
  3. How is medical education financed and organized in Israel and what are the consequences of financing medical education primarily through government support?

To set the stage for in-depth examination of these questions, the first report, by Bruce Rosen, PhD, Director of the Smokler Center, and Keith Kanel, MD, Chief Medical Officer of the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative, provides a high-level overview of the key similarities and differences between the two systems. A companion document provides additional details on Israeli health care for US audiences. Each of the subsequent four documents focuses on a specific aspect in greater depth. The papers benefited from substantial input from numerous health care experts in Israel and the US.

These monographs, which can inform the efforts of anyone engaged in cross-national learning aimed at improving healthcare systems in both countries and around the world, are available on the Institute ( and Jewish Healthcare Foundation ( websites.

  • Healthcare in the US and Israel: A Comparative Overview. Bruce Rosen and Keith Kanel (S-130-10)
  • Healthcare in Israel for US Audiences. Bruce Rosen (S-133-11)
  • The Role of the Government in Israel in Containing Costs and Promoting Better Services and Outcomes of Care. Bruce Rosen (S-134-11)
  • Primary Care in Israel: Accomplishments and Challenges. Bruce Rosen (S-135-11)
  • How Health Plans in Israel Manage the Care Provided by their Physicians. Bruce Rosen (S-136-11)
  • The Medical Workforce and Government-Supported Medical Education in Israel. Rachel Nissanholtz and Bruce Rosen (S-137-11).

Citations in the professional and academic literature

Lemarchand, G. A., Leck, E., & Tash, A. (2016). Mapping research and innovation in the State of Israel (Vol. 5). UNESCO Publishing.