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Health insurance in Israel is compulsory. Among the covered basic services are pregnancy-related and maternity care services, which include, among other things, midwifery assistance.

The profession of midwifery is regulated by law. The practice of midwifery generally requires a license issued by the Ministry of Health based on the defined criteria of good character, education, citizenship or permanent resident status, and publication of identification in the official gazette.

Unlike midwifery, the education and practice of doulas is not regulated by law. Doula classes are available but are not recognized by the Ministry of Health. Doulas’ services do not appear to be covered by Israeli Health Funds.

I. Overview of the Israeli Health Insurance System

Israel maintains a system of national health care.  In accordance with the National Health Insurance Law, 5754-1994,[1] as amended, Israeli residents must register with one of the Health Funds that are approved by the Ministry of Health. The Health Funds are required to provide services listed in “a basket of basic health services,” which includes specific reproductive and prenatal health services and products.[2] Health Funds may provide services in addition to those included in the “basket of basic health services.” The funding of services derives from health insurance fees collected by the Institute of Social Security, annual budget allocations to the Ministry of Health for specific services, taxes, fees and premiums paid by members, among other sources.[3]

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II. Pregnancy and Maternity Care

The National Health Insurance Law lists the minimal requirements of insurance coverage for prenatal health services, such as doctor visits and certain procedures.[4]

The Institute of National Insurance pays for hospitalization following childbirth and provides the mother and the newborn with a grant in an amount that is updated regularly.[5] In accordance with the National Insurance Law, the hospitalization grant is to be paid to the hospital or to the medical institution in which the insured was hospitalized in connection with the birth. If the birth occurred outside of Israel in a hospital or medical institution for which the hospitalization grant claim cannot be submitted, the hospitalization grant will be paid to the insured in an amount equal to the hospitalization expenses that she incurred in connection with the birth. [6]

The Law provides as follows:

In return for the hospitalization grant, the following services will be given to the mother and child:

(1)    All services and medical treatments related to birth including laboratory tests, imaging and other tests of any kind, surgeries or any matters related to them;

(2)    hospitalization of the mother in the maternity ward for the period required by the birth and its results, and hospitalization … within 3 days preceding the date of birth;

(3)    hospitalization of the newborn until the mother leaves the hospital;

(4)    hospitalization of the newborn after the mother leaves the hospital for a period of time as the medical condition requires due to hepatitis, pneumonia, as a result of drinking amniotic fluid or any other infectious disease;

(5)    hospitalization of premature babies in an appropriate medical unit;

(6)    anti-immunoglobulin injections in the case of negative RH and any injection or other treatment required by the mother and newborn according to the doctor’s decision;

(7) Hearing screening tests for the newborn.[7]

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III. Regulation of the Profession of Midwives

The Midwives Ordinance 1930, as amended, regulates the practice of midwifery in Israel.[8] Midwives are required to be authorized under the Ordinance. Accordingly,

Anyone who presents herself, whether directly or indirectly, as willing to examine a woman in connection with birth, to diagnose her, to prescribe her medicine, to treat her or birth her, is considered engaged in the midwifery profession.[9]

Midwifery practice requires a license issued by the Ministry of Health based on the following conditions:

  1. Proof of good character;
  2. The study of midwifery for at list six months and receipt of a diploma from an institution recognized by the Ministry of Health;
  3. Israeli citizenship or permanent resident status; and
  4. Publication of the name and residence of the midwife in the official gazette.[10]

Temporary permits to engage in midwifery may be issued under the conditions prescribed by the Ordinance.[11]

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IV. Doulas

According to a portal advertising doulas’ services in Israel,

Doula supports birth – usually a woman trained to support and accompany pregnant women and couples in the delivery room. Support is given in the emotional and therapeutic aspects through complementary medicine methods such as shiatsu, reflexology, massage and more.[12]

Doula services are not regulated and do not appear to be funded by Israeli Health Funds. Institutions advertising training for doulas in Israel exist[13] but similarly appear to not been recognized by the Ministry of Health.

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Ruth Levush
Senior Foreign Law Specialist
May 2019


[1] National Health Insurance Law, 5754-1994, Sefer Ha-Hukim [SH] [Book of Laws, Official Gazette] No. 5754, p. 156, as amended.

[2] Id. § 4 & 7 & 2d Supp. Up-to-date text is available inthe Nevo Legal Database (NLD) at http://www. nevo.co.il  (in Hebrew; all NLD links below last visited May 14, 2019), archived at https://perma.cc/WHL8-J8J2.

[3] Id. § 14.

[4] Id. § 7 & 2d Supp. §7.

[5] National Insurance Law [Consolidated Version], 5755-1995, SH 5755 No. 1522 p. 210, as amended, § 43, NLD, archived at https://perma.cc/LY72-RQH9.

[6] Id.

[7] Id. table B1.

[8] Midwives Ordinance 1930, 2 Laws of Palestine, cap. 93 p. 931, as amended, NLD, archived at https://perma.cc/MR5N-BJGZ.

[9] Id. § 3(2).

[10] Id. §§ 3(1) & 5.

[11] Id. § 5A.

[12] What Is a Doula? What Is Her Role in Childbirth?, Portal Doula for the Family and the Future Parents, http://doula.co.il/דולה_תומכת_לידה (in Hebrew; last visited May 14, 2019), archived at https://perma.cc/U4WA-KDUR.

[13] See, e.g., To Give Birth, National College for Birthing Services, https://laledetschool.co.il/אודות-מכללת-ללדת / (in Hebrew; last visited May 14, 2019), archived at https://perma.cc/V8VE-HM8P.

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Last Updated: 11/13/2019