Let's assume you'll never get sick in Israel, shall we?
My teacher in ulpan had a cute habit. When we were learning about ailments, she refused to use the first or second person - "you're sick; I'm sick." She would only let us talk about ailments in the third person: "he's sick; she's sick; they're sick."
So in honour of Morah Sarah, let's do that here, too. Let’s assume you’re going to pick a kupat cholim (health care provider) and never need to use it.
Because, I'll admit, I've been holding back.
In all these years of blogging, I haven't really said anything about how to choose a kupat cholim, one of the four healthcare provider networks that exist in Israel. I feel like I don’t know enough, but the truth is, I’ve been navigating this system long enough to know a thing or two. So I’ll try to help you straighten things out as far as healthcare is concerned. If you have questions, ask below and I’ll try to answer. I’ll also give a list of links for good information at the bottom of this post.
What are those words again? Practice saying them; you’ll be using them a lot here (but hopefully never in the first person):
- קֻפַּת חוֹלִים / kupat choleem = sick fund, usually translated into English as “HMO” for people from the U.S. who don’t understand any other approach to healthcare
- Note, the above is the vowelled spelling. Without vowels, it’s usually spelled “קופת חולים” for clarity. Pronunciation is the same: kupat cholim.
- It’s sometimes abbreviated as קופ"ח / koopach
- קֻפָּה / koopah = “fund,” like a supply of money, but sometimes people use this as shorthand to refer to your particular health plan
- The plural is קופות חולים/ koopot choleem = sick funds.
How do I choose???
Here are the 4 choices (4 kupot cholim), in English alphabetical order:
- כללית / Clalit
- לאומית / Leumit (not to be confused with BANK Leumi!)
- מכבי / Maccabi (pronounced ma-KAAAAA-bee, not the way English speakers say it in the Chanukah story)
- מאוחדת / Meuhedet (the "h" is actually a "ch" but this is how they spell it)
All of these 4 have offices all over the country, though one may be more prevalent in a given area, which will probably factor into your decision-making.
These days, most new olim are asked to choose their kupat cholim at the airport when they arrive. If you don't know your choice, however, you can still do it at the post office like in the old days. There may be other ways to do it as well.
Don’t let anybody force you to pick at the airport if you aren’t sure yet!
But the question everyone asks is: how do I choose???
(Assuming, of course, that you and your family will never get sick!)