How does the state health insurance system work?

If you are working in Hungary, your employer should register you with the state national health system (Országos Egészségpénztár Penztar/OEP) but you can also register yourself with the local bureau of the taxation and finance office, or one of the social insurance organisations.

Contributions are split between employee and employer.

Treatment is free at the point of delivery.

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Who is eligible for state healthcare?

Everyone who has been making contributions into the social security system is eligible and there are some exemptions for people in vulnerable categories, such as pensioners and people on low incomes.

If you are a British national, there is currently a healthcare agreement with Hungary in place, which entitles you to treatment.

If you are a third party national and not registered with the OEP, you will need to take out private cover.

How do you apply to join the state health insurance system?

Your employer will register you with the national health insurance system, or you can register yourself if you are self-employed.

You can register at your local bureau of taxation and finance, or at a social insurance organisation.

You will need to take some documentation with you if you are registering yourself:

  • ID card (személyi igazolvány) or passport (útlevél)
  • address card (lakcímkártya)
  • residency permit (tartózkodási engedély)
  • proof that the health insurance contribution (egészségbiztosítási járulék) has been paid

Once you have done this you will be issued with a health insurance card, known as a Társadalomizosítási Azonosító Jet (TAJ) Card, along with your TAJ number. You can then sign up with a doctor of your choice, and will be treated under the state system as long as your GP is contracted to the National Institute of Health Insurance Fund Management (NEAK).

What is covered by the state health insurance system?

Basic medical treatment and hospital care are covered by the national system and are free at the point of delivery, as well as:

  • treatment at home
  • early detection and preventive testing
  • hospital care
  • medical appliances prescribed by a doctor

The cost of medications, if they are on the government’s list, will also be covered.

If you are hospitalized you will need to pay a daily charge, which covers:

  • diagnostic examinations related to the illness
  • treatment prescribed by a doctor, including surgical operations, therapeutic equipment used during these and prosthetic appliances, medicines, blood tests, dressings and curative accessories
  • therapeutic care
  • dietary advice and healthy living advice
  • food, as part of a diet prescribed by the doctor
  • care in a convalescent home

You may also be able to claim sickness benefit (Táppénz) up to a year in duration through your employer, or at the county government offices if you are self-employed.

Are retirees covered by state medical insurance?

As an expat retiree, you will be covered by state medical insurance as long as you are making contributions.

Are students covered by state medical insurance?

If you are studying at a Hungarian educational institution, your tuition fees will not include medical insurance and this must be purchased privately. Most medical facilities will ask you to pay upfront, and then seek reimbursement from your provider.

However, you will be eligible to apply for a TAJ card after a year’s study in a Hungarian institution.

Will your family be covered by your insurance?

If you are an EU citizen, health insurance is mandatory for your spouse and children.

Family members of non-EU employees on a local payroll will not be covered by the employee’s Hungarian state social security payments and will need to make separate arrangements with the state insurance system or a private provider. Family members will only be able to access the state system after seven months’ worth of payments.

If your children are under the age of 18, they will be eligible for state healthcare as long as they are registered and have a TAJ card.

For children under the age of 18, you will need to pay 30% of a year’s gross minimum monthly wage, per month. For family members over the age of 18, the percentage is 50% of the gross minimum wage.

If you are economically inactive, you will need to pay a lump sum flat rate fee of HUF 7,500 (about €22).

Generali Global Health, who offer cover to non-Hungarian students, also offer a family policy.

Is dental treatment covered by state health insurance?

Dental treatment is free for those under the age of 18. If you are a student; if you are over the age of 60; or if you are are pregnant, treatment is also available but you will have to pay some of the costs. Emergency care is free.

What are the contribution rates for state health insurance?

Both employees and employers pay into the health insurance system. Employers pay into a complex social security fund rather than making health insurance contributions per se. You will pay 7% of your total income, and your employer will pay around 17% of your gross salary. You must also pay a lump sum tax or ‘healthcare contribution’ of HUF 7,500.

Why buy private health insurance?

Third-party nationals who are not eligible to apply for OEP will need to take out private cover. Some expats also prefer to take out private health insurance for speed of access to treatment and diagnosis. Hungary is currently a destination for medical and cosmetic surgery tourism, since costs are substantially less than in the US and some European nations.

There are also gaps in healthcare provision across the country, since the system is under strain, and although it is defined as free at the point of delivery, there are reports of ‘gratitude’ payments to doctors (hálapénz) and some out-of-pocket costs. Many doctors in the state sector have their own private practices.

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What is covered by private health insurance?

Private health insurance coverage includes:

  • primary care
  • health checks
  • vaccinations
  • maternity care
  • specialist consultations
  • advanced dental care
  • elective cosmetic surgery
  • vision aids
  • physiotherapy
  • some forms of alternative treatment

How much does private health insurance cost?

For those seeking international private medical insurance (iPMI) cover for multiple countries including Hungary, numerous variables can have an impact on the cost.

The most important variables are:

  • age (the higher the more expensive)
  • area of cover (i.e. in addition to Hungary, which other areas is coverage required in? If those other areas include any of the US, the Caribbean, Singapore, China, Hong Kong or Dubai this can significantly increase the overall price)
  • product choice (higher end insurance products are more expensive)

Other variables include:

  • deductibles
  • co-insurance
  • payment frequency
  • gender
  • nationality
  • country of residence

As so many variables have an effect on the cost of international private medical insurance in Hungary it becomes very difficult to give accurate estimates without knowing the full details of the coverage required. However, as a very rough guide, using a standard profile of a 40 year old British male with no deductibles, no co-insurance, a middle tier plan/product, all modules included and worldwide coverage excluding the US, a ballpark price of around £4,000/$5,000 might be expected. Were coverage to be expanded to include the US then the premium could increase to almost double that amount.

Which companies offer private health insurance?

The big international companies operate across the country, including:

  • Allianz
  • BUPA
  • Cigna Global
  • Foyer Global
  • Generali
  • Medicover
  • Pacific Prime

Glossary of health insurance terms

egészségbiztosítási járulék - health insurance contribution

Országos Egészségpénztár Penztar/OEP - state national health system

Táppénz – sickness benefit

Társadalomizosítási Azonosító Jet (TAJ) – health insurance card

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