The National Labor Court in a precedential decision: East Jerusalem children waiting to receive status in the country are entitled to national health insurance until age 14 המוקד להגנת הפרט
The National Labor Court in a precedential decision: East Jerusalem children waiting to receive status in the country are entitled to national health insurance until age 14
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The National Health Insurance Law, 5754-1994, stipulates that every Israeli resident is entitled to health services, but the services are given as a rule based on registration in the Israeli population registry. As a result, many East Jerusalem children – who have only one parent who is an Israeli resident and the other who is a resident of the OPT and subject to the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) – do not enjoy this right because they are not entitled to receive an identity number upon birth. Their registration takes years – the Ministry of Interior will not even begin to examine the application to register the child as a resident of Israel until the family has lived in Jerusalem for two years. These children are registered for health insurance by the National Insurance Institute (NII), by means of a temporary identification number – but only from birth until the age of two and a half – this in the framework of the limited implementation of the “temporary numbers” arrangement achieved in HCJ 2100/99 (filed by HaMoked, PHR-I and ACRI).

For years HaMoked has been battling to get the State to recognize these children’s right to enjoy national health insurance until they reach adulthood, given that they are the children of Israeli residents, and without their entitlement being dependent on their registration in the population registry. On July 2, 2013, Adv. Bassam Karkabi, acting on behalf of HaMoked, filed an appeal to the National Labor Court against the decision of the Regional Labor Court, which accepted the State’s position that entitlement to National Health Insurance was indeed dependent on the children’s registration in the population registry, and that once they reached age two and a half and so long as their registration had not been resolved, they were deemed to be “illegal aliens” unentitled to health services. The appeal concerned the matter of 20 children, some of whom were born in Israel and denied health insurance on reaching age two and a half, others were children who moved to Jerusalem after that age.

On March 13, 2018, the National Labor Court accepted the appeal. The Court stressed that it did not intend to interfere in the question of the children’s status under the Entry into Israel Regulations or with the Ministry of Interior procedures – this contrary to the Regional Labor Court’s position, which focused on this issue. Instead the National Labor Court focused solely on the question of the children’s entitlement to receive health services, and this, until they reach the age of 14 – the cap age for receiving status in Israel for those subject to the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law.

The Court criticized the State for not having bothered to establish an arrangement to provide basic health services to minors such as the appellants, most if not all of whom will ultimately be entitled to receive status in Israel. This while the State implemented an arrangement to provide health services to other minors who were not insured under the National Health Insurance Law, including the children of migrant workers – who were not residents of the state, were not likely to become residents of the state, and with significantly lower affinity to the country. The Court stressed that “vis-à-vis the right to health stands the state’s obligation to formulate a normative arrangement to realize it”, and that “the arrangement must correspond to the degree of the person’s affinity to the country”. The Court ruled that the absence of an arrangement in this case did not conform with foundational principles of the Israeli legal system, especially given the “lengthy and disproportionate period” of two years and longer required for completion of the registration procedure by the Ministry of Interior, during which time the children were not entitled to basic health services (other than emergency services under the Patient’s Rights Law). The current situation, it was determined, was unreasonable and disproportionately violated the children’s constitutional right to health, part of the right to human dignity, and their right to a minimum of dignified living conditions. It also violated the right to family life of the Israeli resident custodial parent, namely the right to live with their children in Israel: “this state of affairs might place the parent, a resident of the country, in a situation where they must choose between the health of their children and their wish to stay in the country and realize their residency status”.

The court ruled that so long as the state does not establish a special arrangement regarding children whose custodial parent is an Israeli resident, the NII must insure these children pursuant to the “temporary numbers” arrangement throughout the interim period between the filing of the application to register them in the Israeli population registry and the Ministry of Interior’s decision on the application. Thus the National Labor Court accepted the appellants’ position that the “temporary numbers” arrangement that affords health insurance under the National Health Insurance Law does not limit the age of children to whom it applies.

The Court also ordered the NII to pay court fees in the sum of NIS 10,000.
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