The IDF's medical program is weighed down by excessive bureaucracy, Channel 2 reports Monday, leaving some soldiers waiting for months to receive medical treatment.
"For months I have been trying to make an appointment with an orthopedist, and only today I got an appointment," one soldier told the site. He said that after the doctor arrived, he was told that his appointment had been cancelled – without him even knowing it – due to a tangle of bureaucracy and strict rules about insurance coverage under the IDF.
"I asked her why she did not call me and let me know," said the soldier. "Why should soldiers arrive from distant places for their time and then have their appointments cancelled without warning?"
This was the third time the soldier had such an experience, he noted.
"We must put an end to this disgrace," he said. "We deserve a better healthcare system."
Another soldier, who joined the IDF and was relegated as a noncombat soldier due to asthma, reported a similar experience.
"As soon as I got the referral to health practitioner, I called to make an appointment, and of course – I was denied," she exclaimed, adding that no appointments were open for at least a month. She had waited three months for that answer.
The soldier added that her condition is deteriorating – and she still cannot get an appointment. She added that speaking to IDF medical secretaries over the dilemma led nowhere; they asked her why she did not simply approach private medical practitioners.
However, she explained, Israel's HMO system does not provide insurance coverage for IDF soldiers – and to see a private doctor, she would have to be released from the IDF, just to merit separate coverage of any kind.
Yet another soldier waited over five months for an IDF medical appointment, and instead went to a private doctor with the expectation of paying hundreds of shekels for basic care.
Eventually, he said, the private doctor found out he had been a soldier, and refused to take money after the soldier explained his dilemma.
There are only two medical secretaries at the IDF's Tel Hashomer offices handling medical appointment requests, one of the patients explained to Channel 2, each of whom is fielding tens of thousands of calls per day. Waiting times are long.
"The Medical Corps is working to streamline the different ways to respond to appointment request, and the best medical care is given to IDF soldiers," the IDF Spokesperson's office responded. The office denied that waiting times were any longer than in the civilian HMO program.
"In emergency cases, doctors refer troops to experts working in outpatient clinics of various hospitals," it added.