In 2017, I had the moment that every woman dreads: I found a lump in my breast. I did the responsible thing and went to my family doctor. She assured me that it was likely nothing, but sent me for an ultrasound, “to be safe,” and referred me to a specialist.
Within days, I found myself in the specialist’s office, ultrasound results in hand. The feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach lifted as the doctor looked over the ultrasound and assured me it was likely nothing with a cheerful smile on her face. She then physically examined me, and her smile froze, “Oh.” That one syllable turned my blood to ice and sent my heart racing.
A few days later, I was in Machon Hala. At 25 years old, I was by far the youngest woman visiting the institute that day. Located in Jerusalem, Machon Hala prides itself in being the most advanced, comprehensive breast cancer screening and diagnostic center in Israel. I never expected to find myself somewhere like this, and the reality of the possibility of what the lump might be was sinking in.
Everyone who works at Machon Hala speaks both English and Hebrew fluently. The staff did their best to make sure I was comfortable and informed about what was going on. They performed a biopsy, and I went home to await my results.
The kind-hearted secretary from Machon Hala personally called me to share the good news – I was cancer free! I booked an appointment for a follow up six months later, and we said goodbye.
Those weeks were some of the most stressful of my life, but one thing I did not have to even think about was money. As an Olah from the United States, it seems almost impossible to imagine going through such an ordeal with no additional expenses. At each step of the process, I simply swiped my Maccabi insurance card – everything was covered by my general health insurance. I cannot imagine having to worry about going for visits, scans, biopsies, and follow ups, while also worrying about how to pay for it all. The entire process was unbelievably smooth and easy. I booked my appointments in a timely fashion, I was seen quickly, I was taken seriously, and got my results within a week. When it was all over and I could finally breathe a sigh of relief, it hit me how lucky I am to be living in Israel. The Israeli healthcare system has its faults, as does every healthcare system in the world, but to not worry about money when going though a health crisis is simply…. Priceless.
This is the second essay in a series about Olim experiences in the Israeli healthcare system. Do you have a story to share? Send it to email@example.com
Read more: An Olah’s IVF Experience in Israel