Pre-pregnancy genetic testing is intended to identify couples at high risk of having children with severe genetic diseases. Everyone covered by Health Insurance is eligible to receive the tests at no cost.
- Some screenings are performed in order to identify carriers of certain genes, even if there is no history of the disease in the family. Some examples include: Cystic fibrosis and Fragile X.
- The purpose of a genetic screening based on family background is to try and identify couples at exceptionally high risk and provide them with genetic counseling.
- Testing for other genetic diseases is based on each couple's family origins, with consideration given to how common and severe each disease is.
- Some of the tests are included in the Ministry of Health's healthcare services basket and are provided at no cost, while others are only covered partially by supplementary insurance.
- It is preferable to perform the testing before pregnancy, but it is also possible to have it performed at the beginning of pregnancy.
- The various health funds may cover certain tests that are not covered in the healthcare basket in accordance with the level of coverage of the policy holder.
Who is Eligible?
- Everyone covered by health insurance is eligible to receive the tests included in the healthcare basket at no cost on condition that she/he meets the requirements listed below.
- For tests not included in the basket, each health plan has different procedures and co-payment amounts depending on the policyholder's plan and level.
- The necessary tests divide into two categories:
- Tests that are relevant to the general public, such as the test for Cystic fibrosis
- Tests that are relevant to specific populations such as Ashkenazic Jews, Iranian Jews, Arab Bedouins, etc
- Full details can be found on the Ministry of Health website
Populations at High Risk of having Children with Complex Diseases
- The Arab population in general, and the Southern Bedouins in specific, have a higher risk of having children with complex diseases.
- It is advised to check the following lists:
- For a complete list of tests on the Ministry of Health website [https://www.health.gov.il/Subjects/Genetics/Documents/BZ07_2013-Arabs.pdf for Druze Arabs (Not including Southern Bedouins)
- For a complete list of tests from the Ministry of Health website Southern Bedouins
How to Claim It?
- Contact a facility approved by the Ministry of Health to perform genetic testing. Click here for an English listing of the facilities on the Ministry of Health website.
- A referral from a doctor is not necessary for the tests included in the basket.
- Those with supplementary insurance should contact their health plan to get details regarding payment, and to find locations where tests not included in the basket may be performed.
Genetic Testing Performed as Part of Supplementary Insurance
- The health plans provide some funding towards genetic testing not included in the healthcare basket.
- One should check with his/her health plan to see which tests may be given funding.
Clalit Health Services
- Details regarding testing and co-payments for Clalit Mushlam policyholders
- See the Genetic Testing Guide on the Clalit website.
Maccabi Healthcare Services
- See the Rights to Genetic Testing on the Maccabi website.
- The genetic tests appearing on the list may only be performed if there is a recommendation from the special genetic disease software used by the laboratory technicians.
- Couples being tested provide technicians with demographic and family information, which determine the tests to be performed.
- Co-payment amounts are determined according to the tests that are determined.
- Appointments for testing should be made through the "Maccabi Nonstop" Call Center (*3555).
Leumit Health Fund
- Leumit policyholders are entitled to undergo genetic testing without medical indicators and with the relevant co-payment. *Click here for more information about genetic testing on the Leumit website.
Meuhedet Health Services
- Meuhedet Adif policyholders are entitled once to perform one or more of the genetic tests from the list of tests.
- The test is performed in a public hospital or in a facility with which the health plan has special arrangements, on the condition that there is a recommendation from a health plan doctor specializing in genetics.
- For more information, see the Meuhedet Adif regulations.
- In general, one of the parents is tested with a blood test, and if he/she is found to be a carrier for a severe hereditary disease, the other parent is tested. If both parents are found to be carriers, the fetus is at risk for having the disease.
- If both parents are found to be carriers it is possible to perfom preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) in order to ensure the birth of a child that doesn't have that disease and in order to prevent the need to terminate a pregnancy.
- The testing results and chances of having the disease, are relevant for all subsequent pregnancies and it is not necessary to perform genetic testing before each pregnancy. If many years have passed since the tests were initially performed it is recommended to consult for advice to determine whether additional genetic testing should be done.
- For a comprehensive categorized listing of healthcare organizations offering assistance and support, click here.
- The Ministry of Health
- The National Insurance Institute
- The National Health Insurance Law Ombudsman
Laws and Regulations
- Recommendations for Genetic Testing on the Ministry of Health's English website
- Question and answer forum regarding genetics on the Ministry of Health website
- Recommendations from the Association of Geneticists for genetic carrier screenings for pregnant women on the Israeli Medical Association website
- Original information provided by the IMA.
- Medical Administration Circular 32/2008 from 7.7.2008 regarding the addition to the healthcare services basket of screenings to identify couples at risk for having children with cystic fibrosis
- Medical Administration Circular 41/2008 from 4.11.2008 regarding screenings to identify couples at risk for having children with familial dysautonomia
- English translation and maintenance by The Shira Pransky Project.