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Medical Tourism Bill Passes First Knesset Hurdle

23 March 2017 by Efraim Roseman

Medical tourism has become a worldwide phenomenon, with substantial growth in recent decades.  Partial steps have been made towards regulating this activity in Israel, but until now no clear government policy has been formulated.  According to Ministry of Tourism statistics, some 30,000 medical tourists arrive every year, most of them from Russia, Eastern European countries, Cyprus and other neighboring countries. The field developed in accordance with the initiatives of hospitals and various business entities.  Therefore, the current state of medical tourism and its effects on the Israeli health system and patient are not optimal from a systemic viewpoint. The bill is focused to ensure professional and ethical treatment for the medical tourist. The medical tourism agent is, in essence, the medical tourist's representative in dealing with the Israeli medical system, prior to his arrival in Israel. The bill establishes a register for agents and determines threshold conditions for applicants.  It regulates the work of medical tourism agents, establishing ethical norms for their activity.    The development of medical tourism in Israel will make a significant contribution to the Israeli economy and will contribute to the development of public medicine.