Health and Health Insurance - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
Skip to main content

Health and Health Insurance

Main Content
Timeline (Before Departure) Action Check
3-4 months Have physical, dental, and other checkups  
2 months Look into keeping your stateside health insurance  
  Understand your Harel Insurance plan  
3 - 4 weeks before arrival Sign up for Harel Insurance plan  
  Prepare check or cash to bring to pay for Harel Insurance plan  
  Explore options for additional kinds of insurance  
While in Israel Find treatment  

Have physical, dental, and other checkups

As part of the admissions procedure for HUC-JIR, you will be required to submit a series of medical forms to the Admissions office stateside.  Then you will be asked to submit a health insurance application form to the YII office in Jerusalem. We recommend that you schedule appointments with your doctors as soon as possible.  In addition, you should ask your doctor to write a brief note explaining any major medical conditions you have and any medications that you are on.

In addition, we recommend that you speak with your doctor and your current insurance provider about acquiring a year’s worth of any medications that you are on. This will greatly simplify your medical life while living in Israel.


All students must have health insurance

HUC does not have a private insurance plan or clinic for students. We arrange for private, HMO-type health coverage through a local insurance provider, called Harel, through an agent Harel-Yedidim.  Provided that you meet the criteria (see below), complete the application form (see below) and pay for your UMS (University Medical Services) policy, you will receive health insurance for the duration of the YII program.
The cost to you is $600 for the duration of the Year-in-Israel program.
Students arriving before June 28th 2020 (for Pre-Ulpan or any other reason) should plan on adding $1.75 per day.
In order to activate your health insurance, please come to Helen Linden in the YII offices at the college to pay immediately upon your arrival. Note that we are unable to accept credit card payment. If paying with an American check, make it payable to HEBREW UNION COLLEGE.  If paying in American cash, bring the exact amount.  If paying in shekels, it will be calculated according to the exchange rate on that day.
As you will have applied in advance, your health insurance card will be sent to us. It is important to carry this card at all times. It must be presented when seeking service.


Health insurance application

Note that the application form for the health insurance is NOT the same as the medical forms that you must submit to the HUC-JIR Admissions Office.

Please download and complete, clearly and legibly, ALL the fields on the Health Insurance Application form.  

Scan and email your completed form to Helen Linden at 3-4 weeks before your arrival date.

For Institution write "HUC"; for Faculty or Department write "Year in Israel Program". 

In section A fill in your name, gender, passport number, date of birth (day/month/year), citizenship, address and phone number in home country, and email address.

Pay careful attention to filling in the dates of the insurance period. In the "From" box write your date of arrival in Israel as the start date for your policy. Unless you already know your departure date, in the "To" box write May 23rd, 2021 as the end date of your policy.

If you answer "yes" to any of the questions in section C, you may be asked to send a recent, up-to-date detailed letter from your doctor, written especially for this purpose, noting the relevant dates and the current status of the medical condition prior to a decision regarding approval of your insurance application. 

Any previous or current medical problem may affect insurance coverage limitations – see insurance criteria below.

If the insurance agency discovers that information submitted about prior or chronic conditions is incomplete, all liability will be rescinded

Read and mark the relevant boxes in section D 

Sign and date the form in section E.

Note: We do not share with the insurers any information about your health, other than what you declare on the insurance application form. The information in the HUC medical forms, which you submit as part of the admissions process, is treated as confidential and we do not share it. Those HUC medical forms must be completed in their entirety by your doctor before you arrive in Israel and submitted to Tracy Ward in the Admissions Department The forms cannot be filled out or completed by doctors in Israel. If you arrive in Israel without completion of your HUC medical forms, you will not be allowed to register for classes.

Insurance criteria and options for coverage

Any pre-existing condition or any complication resulting from a pre-existing condition will NOT be covered by your Harel policy, including related hospitalization, doctor visits, and medicine. THERE IS NO PLAN AVAILABLE IN ISRAEL THAT WILL COVER PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS.

In most cases, Harel will cover you for medical care that is unconnected to your pre-existing condition. Each case is considered on an individual basis.

If you do have prior or existing health issues, we therefore recommend that you

  • apply for the Harel policy to cover health issues other than those associated with your pre-existing condition
  • consider retaining your current insurance to cover your pre-existing conditions that will be excluded from the Harel coverage or explore other options for coverage such as COBRA
  • consider purchasing Harel's Prestige policy which does offer minimum coverage, up to $1000 for hospital treatment of a worsening of a pre-existing condition, but this does not include routine maintenance of the preexisting condition. Prestige coverage costs $2.25 per day (up to age 65) and must be taken for a full year.

Students who maintain their private health insurance policy in North America should become familiar with the details and terms of its coverage, especially as related to overseas coverage, and what the insurance company will need in order to reimburse the student for overseas expenses. 

We strongly recommend you maintain your current private health plan in the following circumstances:

  • If you have a chronic illness or injury or prior conditions that may require hospitalization or extended treatment
  • If you want or need cosmetic surgery during the Year-In-Israel
  • If you plan a pregnancy
  • If you are over 65 years old

Students with the following conditions will not be insurable through Harel-Yedidim:

  • Infectious diseases
  • AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases
  • System-wide problems that impact the entire body functioning
  • Cancer in the treatment stage


Understand your Harel Insurance plan

Throughout the year, an agent of the health provider serves as the liaison for the student for all health and insurance matters. Students are generally satisfied with the quality of the medical coverage.

The representative of the insurance provider can visit the campus to meet with students at their request. If you are confused as to whether you should retain your current policy or not, we advise you not to cancel your policy until you can speak personally with the agent.

There is further explanation of the coverage and procedure for obtaining medical services on this website under 'In Jerusalem' see Guidelines for Getting Medical Care in Jerusalem. 

Details about the Harel Plan 

There is no co-pay for a policyholder (student, spouse, dependent, etc) to visit a doctor under the health plan. The cost will be covered by the insurance carrier.

A policy holder having a prescription filled in a pharmacy that works with the insurance carrier, will not have to pay for medication. Costs will be covered by the carrier. For those keeping their current health insurance, many out-of-pocket expenses for prescription medication is only $10-15. There are plenty of pharmacies around Jerusalem, and one in the same building as the Wolfson Medical Center where you are likely to go to see a doctor.

Many of your questions can be answered by reading through the Harel-Yedidim website.

You will find there a complete explanation about the UMS (University Medical Services) policy. 

If you have pressing questions that are not covered in this section, you can email the insurance carrier directly at:

FAQs about the Harel Plan
Will the plan cover prescription drugs that I am currently taking?
The insurance plan only covers drugs prescribed by participating doctors in Israel, up to $200 for the duration of the policy (a year). Birth control medication is not covered by the plan. Any prescription drugs you are currently taking must be paid for privately since it indicates a prior condition, which is not covered by the plan. Most prescription drugs (or a generic version) are available in Israel (and usually much cheaper than in the US). If you are on medication, we suggest you bring a supply with you as well as your doctor's prescription. If the medication is available in Israel, you will be able to fill the prescription here. If not, you will need to make arrangements to have your medication brought to you in Israel. Do not have medication sent by mail or courier service as it is likely to be held up by the customs authorities and you may be charged duty, or they may not let it in at all. It is possible and relatively easy to bring a one-year supply of your medication with you to Israel. This is best done when it is a medication that you have taken for a long time and anticipate continuing to take for a long time. That way you don’t have to worry about filling it once in Jerusalem.

Can I get extra coverage to cover chronic conditions such as asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes and digestion problems?
In most cases, you cannot get coverage in Israel to cover prior or chronic medical conditions. You can apply to purchase additional coverage from the insurance carrier to cover asthma and other chronic conditions, but only for hospitilization. The plan does not cover doctor visits or special medications. To get all the details, you can contact the insurance carrier via email, or wait until you arrive to speak with the health care representative. If you are uncertain as to whether your specific health issues will be covered, we strongly suggest that you continue with your current policy until you can speak to the agent. 

What if I have a chronic or serious prior medical condition and worry that I will not be covered?
If you have suffered from a chronic or serious illness in the past (lupus, cancer, heart problems, etc) the insurance carrier will most likely refuse you coverage. Therefore, you must continue with your current insurance policy. If you are in doubt, keep your current policy until you can confer with the agent. (Know that there are NO insurance carriers in Israel who will provide short term insurance for chronic and serious prior medical conditions).

What about well baby checkups and immunizations?
Again, this is not covered in the basic policy. Once you arrive, you can speak with the agent about buying additional insurance that could cover these expenses.

Is there a maximum age for insurance coverage?
Yes, coverage is only available for those up to 65 years old.

Do I have to do anything now?
Yes. When you have booked your ticket and know your arrival date, 3-4 weeks before your arrival in Israel, download and complete the Health Insurance Application form. Then submit the completed form to Helen Linden at Decide how you are going to pay and prepare the check or cash to bring with you to activate the insurance on arrival. 

If you have specific questions, email the insurance agent at We do not have specific information about the plan – contact the agent.

When does the policy take effect?
We have made arrangements with the health insurance carrier to cover all students from the day they arrive in the country. However, you must apply in advance of your arrival and activate your policy by paying HUC Jerusalem as soon as possible after you arrive. That way, we can be sure that everyone is covered at all times. If you already have an insurance plan, you may want to extend it for the first few days that you are in Israel just to be sure.

Will the plan cover me if I travel outside of Israel or back to the United States?
No. The plan only covers your health needs in Israel and by specific doctors and pharmacies. If you travel outside of Israel (including the Sinai and the Palestinian Authority) during the year, even to your home country, you must take out private travel insurance for the set period of time or make other arrangements. The health provider that HUC-JIR uses offers private travel insurance at a low cost. You can easily arrange this when you need it.

What health coverage can spouses, significant others and dependents buy?
The insurance carrier that works with the College also offers policies to non-students up to age 65. The conditions are the same and the price will vary from $1.75 - $2.25 a day, depending on the type of policy. Contact Helen Linden at for the relevant application and payment forms. It is suggested that the non-student make arrangements to continue his/her current insurance policy for the first few days in Israel until finalizing the policy with the insurance agent.

What if I don't want the policy because I want to continue with my current policy or have another option? 
All students must be covered by a health insurance policy. If you choose an option other than that which is provided by HUC-JIR, you may sign a waiver after you demonstrate that you are covered by another plan and that you know how to use it --- how and where you get medical care, how you pay for it etc. You must also supply the YII administrative staff with this information in case you are so unwell that you are incapacitated, and we have to seek medical attention for you.

What else is included?
Treatment by internists and specialists listed on the health provider lists. Treatment in Israeli public hospital emergency rooms and clinics for up to 90 days a year; tests, x-rays, medications, doctor’s fees, surgeon, intensive care, anesthetist, angioplasty, pacemaker, cauterization, general services. Emergency dental treatment, up to $200 a year. Discounts for routine dental care.

What else is excluded?
Any physical or emotional handicap, chronic illness or chronic condition that existed before the student joined the health plan; any complications arising from a previous injury or a chronic condition.

Injuries sustained in road accidents (which are covered by automobile insurance companies), work accidents, earthquakes, war, or terrorist attacks (which are covered by the National Insurance Institute).

Consultation regarding birth control, supervision during pregnancy. rehabilitation, cosmetic surgery, organ transplants, hospitalization for non-emergency treatment, AIDS or AIDS-related conditions, routine tests such as pap smears and mammograms or annual examinations, sexually transmitted diseases

Students will be asked to sign a declaration that they have not withheld health information.
If the insurance agency discovers that information submitted about prior or chronic conditions is incomplete, all liability will be rescinded.

Explore options for additional kinds of insurance
Harel offers students two optional insurance policies

  • a compensation policy that covers medicals situations as a result of personal accident (for example, life insurance, disability, fractures and burns etc.)
  • one for apartment contents, personal possessions and laptop insurance coverage. 

If you are interested contact Harel directly for more details.

Other students have used Clement Worldwide for renter’s insurance.


Find treatment

Counseling Services

Some students seek outside support from psychiatrists, psychologists or social workers.  There are many English-speaking immigrants in these professions who the college can recommend. Information is available from Nancy Lewitt, Head of Student Life.  You are welcome to contact her in advance of your arrival for information and referrals at An excellent resourch for researching support professionals is  Costs of mental health services are not covered by your Harel Health Insurance. The cost per visit is less than or equivalent to those in the States.  In addition, there is a free walk-in crisis center that has English speaking therapists.