Health policy regulations pertaining to advanced surgical devices - Their socio-economic effects on ophthalmology practice 14 Economics 1402 Applied Economics

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Abstract

The Israel Ministry of Health enacted regulations that aim to reduce private expenditure on healthcare services and mitigate social inequality. According to the modified rules, which went into effect in the second half of 2016, patients who undergo surgery in a private hospital and are covered by their healthcare provider's supplemental insurance (SI) make only a basic co-payment. The modified regulations limited the option of self-payment for advanced devices not covered by national health basket, meaning that patients for whom such devices are indicated had to pay privately for the entire procedure. These regulations applied to all medical and surgical devices not covered by national health insurance (NHI). Toric intraocular lenses (IOLs) are a case in point. These advanced lenses are implanted during cataract surgery to correct corneal astigmatism and, in indicated cases, obviate the need for complex eyeglasses postoperatively. Toric IOL implantation has been shown to be highly cost-effective in both economic and quality-of-life terms. Limitations of the use of these advanced IOLs threatened to increase social inequality. In 2017, further adjustments of the regulations were made which enabled supplemental charges for these advanced IOLs, performed through the SI programs of the healthcare medical organizations (HMOs). Allowing additional payment for these lenses at a fixed pre-set price made it possible to apply a supplemental part of the insurance package to the surgery itself. In mid 2018 these IOLs were included without budget in the national health basket, allowing for self-payment for the additional cost in addition to the basic coverage for all patients with NHI. This case study suggests that, in their efforts to enhance health care equity, policymakers may benefit if exercising due caution when limiting the extent to which SI programs can charge co-payments. This is because, when a service or product is not available via the basic NHI benefits package, limiting SI co-payments can sometimes result in a boomerang effect - leading to an increase in inequality rather than the sought-after decrease in inequality.

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Barequet, D., Tur-Sinai, A., & Barequet, I. (2019). Health policy regulations pertaining to advanced surgical devices - Their socio-economic effects on ophthalmology practice 14 Economics 1402 Applied Economics. Israel Journal of Health Policy Research, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13584-019-0286-8

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