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Medical tourism in Israel and abroad – legal information

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Joshua Pex

Tens of thousands of foreign citizens arrive to Israel every year for the purpose of receiving various medical treatments. Israeli citizens also visit different foreign countries for medical purposes. Whether you are pursuing medical treatment in Israel or abroad, there are different important legal rules relating to medical tourism that you need to be aware of. This article attempts to layout a detailed explanation of the field of medical tourism, which seems to be the least affected by the corona crisis.

The Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh law office, located in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, specializes in immigration law and visa applications to Israel. Our lawyers possess extensive legal professional experience and the necessary knowledge to assist our clients with visa applications for medical tourism purposes in Israel and abroad.

Medical tourism in Israel and abroad - legal information

What is medical tourism?

Medical tourism, as the name suggests, is simply visiting a foreign country for the purpose of receiving medical treatment provided by different medical institutions of the host country. Until a few years ago, medical tourism was not considered as an industry in its own right.  However, during the last decade, and in the light of a growing global trend in the field, it started to be recognized as a separate industry, with many changes taking place since then. Many tourist agencies were founded for the specific purpose of offering medical tourism packages and issuing necessary permits and insurance contracts. Similarly, laws related to medical tourism began to form.

Medical tourism in Israel.

Tens of thousands of medical tourists visit Israel every year. The increase in the number of medical tourists in Israeli hospitals and medical centers in recent years, has raised the issue on the Israeli public agenda. Along with the high revenues for the state, there is a growing concern among health officials of a subsequent shortage of beds for Israelis who need parallel treatments.

Consequently, since 2018 the field of medical tourism in Israel has been subject to the provisions of the Medical Tourism Law. Among other things, the law regulates the professions of medical tourism agents and mediators in Israel. Professionals of this field are obliged to be registered in an official state registrar, and medical tourists will only be allowed to arrive through those licensed medical travel agents. In addition, the law prohibits the preference of medical tourists over non-tourist patients, in matters such as the availability of appointments or the provision of hospitalization and hotel services in medical institutions.

Medical tourism abroad

Many Israeli citizens fly overseas to receive various types of medical treatment. There are a variety of reasons for this: Sometimes the cost of treatment in another country is lower. For example, Turkey is known as a country that many Israelis visit for hair transplant treatments. Countries in the Far East, such as South Korea and Thailand, are popular destinations for plastic surgery. In other cases, there is a need for treatment at a specific location, due to the expertise of the medical authorities there or the advanced technology used.

There are many important issues that need to be checked before leaving the country for the purpose of receiving medical treatment. Most importantly, insurance coverage. There are some treatments that are partially funded by the national HMO in accordance with the provisions of the National Health Insurance Law. If the insurance coverage is private, it is very important to make sure that the insurance coverage does meet all the requirements and needs of the patient.

Medical tourism in the Corona period

Despite of the focus on the global corona crisis, other types of diseases and medical constraints continue to plague the world. Accordingly, although there has been a significant slowdown in medical tourism in Israel and abroad, the industry continues to operate. Israel has stopped medical tourism in the country almost completely with the outbreak of the plague, but as of June 2020, foreign citizens can submit a special application to enter Israel for medical treatment. In order to obtain a permit, an application needs to be submitted to the administration of hospitals at the Ministry of Health. The application is then sent for approval at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Office. The departure of Israelis for urgent medical needs abroad may also be possible for a variety of destinations, subject to submitting an application and obtaining an approval in advance.

Contact a lawyer who specializes in immigration and tourism law

In conclusion, medical tourism continues to be widespread in Israel and abroad, even during this difficult period. Please contact us In case of any question or need for legal assistance and a lawyer from our firm will be happy to assist you. Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh, a law office in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, specializes in immigration law to Israel and many countries. It provides legal assistance to medical tourists interested in arriving in Israel, as well as to Israelis seeking medical treatment abroad.

Medical tourism in Israel and abroad - legal information

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