Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men watch Israeli surfers during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot in the southern Israeli port city of Ashdod, Monday, Sept. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

There was a time in the United States — in the 1990s — when health maintenance organizations were the biggest thing in health care. Many hospitals and private practices were moving toward an HMO model of care, and it seemed as though the U.S. health care industry as a whole would shift to an HMO-driven system — which is how health care is deployed in Israel, a country that’s been using HMOs as major care providers (and, later, the country’s primary care provider) since before the Israeli state was even created.

The most obvious benefit of an HMO system is the coordination of care the organizations facilitate. There is a sophisticated level of communication that takes place between hospitals and practices; patient information is shared among care providers, so the surgeon in the hospital knows exactly what a patient’s primary care provider has done for him or her in terms of tests and medication prescribed, and clinicians also have access to the patient’s health history.

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