Sheba Medical Center
Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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Health Ministry Director General Dr. Ronny Gamzo appointed Thursday an investigation committee to probe the medical tourism industry in Israel, in response to a Haaretz investigation into the matter.

The Haaretz probe revealed that medical tourists to Israel enjoy medical conditions Israelis can only dream of, including very short waiting times for procedures, the right to choose their own doctor and private rooms. And these benefits may well be coming at the expense of Israeli patients' care.

"The issue of medical tourism is complicated and the question of  how to wisely balance the industry's advantages and disadvantages should be examined," Gamzo said. "The committee will check what the right balance is, and at the same time examine a way to increase resources that would allow the development of the medical tourism industry that doesn't come at the expense of Israeli patients."

Currently, Israel gets some 30,000 medical tourists a year, mostly from the former Soviet Union. The Health Ministry estimates that they bring the health system some NIS 200 million a year, of which more than NIS 100 million goes to government hospitals. Outside experts put the total much higher, at almost NIS 500 million.

The six committee members appointed by Gamzo, including hospital officials, public officials and academics, will deliver the probe results within a month.