A Basket of Good News

Israel’s Health ministry has just approved an expansion of the “Health Basket,” treatments and drugs covered by Israel’s four HMOs for 2023. The expansion included more than 120 medications and technologies at a cost of nearly NIS 650 million.  The task of deciding which medications and technologies to be included each year is a daunting one. The weight of responsibility on the shoulders of the ministerial committee is formidable. And despite political, professional and philosophical differences, there is a consensus that the task is indeed difficult and by and large, respect for the process and the committee members transcends petty disputes. No system is perfect, and criticism is justified in some cases. But overall, we feel fortunate to live in a country with a national health care system that despite its limits, does a lot for the common good and democratizes healthcare beyond what we see in other developed countries.  We were particularly relieved to see the inclusion of an important targeted PARP inhibitor treatment for breast cancer. We have seen severe financial hardship derived from bearing the costs of these treatments in Lemonade Fund grant applications. This was particularly heartbreaking since this treatment offers so much promise to BRCA-related cancers so prevalent in Israel, especially in cases of young breast and ovarian cancer patients.  Thank you to the Israeli Health Basket committee. And thank you, Israel. For a system that strives to be a shining light of equality, promise and progress for all of its citizens.