Using The Healthcare System In Hungary – A Short Guide For Expats
Overview of healthcare in Hungary
In the aftermath of communism, Hungary is gradually emerging as a medical tourism destination since its healthcare standards are a bit higher than some of the other neighboring European nations. While the hospitals are averagely equipped, most of the doctors are well trained. Many citizens from neighboring countries therefore cross over to Hungary for better quality medical treatment at more affordable prices.Hungary’s healthcare system has recently gone through extensive privatization. It is mainly financed through the Health Insurance Fund (HIF), which provides free or subsidized health and medical care to the local population. The contribution towards health insurance comes from the employees (who have to pay 3% of their income) as well as the employers (who pay 15% of the employee’s gross annual pay along with a lump sum tax). The investment cost of healthcare is also greatly financed by the local and national income tax paid by the population.
HIF’s coverage is universal and it allows access to ambulatory as well as secondary healthcare. All citizens are covered for public healthcare regardless of their employment status. The government also makes contributions for specific groups like pensioners and the unemployed.
On the downside, the public funding of the health system in this country is less than adequate. Because of this, patients are often required to make contributions towards their medical costs. Since the medical staff earn low wages, payment of gratuity towards hospital personnel after childbirth, a surgery, or a major treatment has also become a common practice in this country.
Moreover, public healthcare in Hungary is overburdened. This means that the wait times can be long. Some patients have been known to resort to under-the-table payments for better and more timely medical care.
Public healthcare for foreigners
Non-Hungarians who make payments from their wages to the HIF are also entitled to receive treatment at public hospitals at low charges. Foreigners who are not insured only get basic health services for free in case of an emergency or if they are suffering from an acute condition. This covers basic services and in-patient treatment, as well as out-patient services. Emergency treatment and first aid are free for everybody in Hungary, even tourists.
Like the local population, expats who are covered by the HIF make co-payments on certain treatments including dental care, pharmaceuticals and rehab. Out-of-pocket expenses borne by patients have also increased substantially in the last two decades.
Expats who are employed by local companies make contributions towards the HIF and are therefore eligible for free public healthcare just like the locals. However, those who are employed by foreign companies need to check if they are entitled to the same healthcare benefits.
While accessing public healthcare, expats need to produce their TAJ card in order to prove contribution towards HIF. This is a health insurance card that has been issued by the state.
Citizens from the EU can also use their European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) to access free or subsidized medical treatment in Hungary’s state-run facilities that are contracted with the National Health Insurance Fund.
Private Healthcare for foreigners
Many of the expats living in Hungary choose to get private health insurance with a local company. This gives them access to good, private hospitals with more English-speaking staff.
Several state-employed doctors run their own practices and clinics, where private consultations take place. It isn’t uncommon for the actual treatment to take place in the state hospital where the doctor practises if required.
Like in most other nations, private healthcare in Hungary is quite expensive. Though it is uncommon, some of the medical clinics that cater mainly to foreigners have a direct billing relationship with the insurers. For more information on clinics that specialize in treatments for foreigners, visit:
Rozsakert Medical Center: http://rmc.hu/hu
Dr. Rose: http://www.drrose.hu/en
Expat Medical Clinic: http://www.expatmedical.hu/index.html
Private insurers in Hungary only have contracts with private facilities. However, if the patient requires any kind of surgery and needs to be referred to a public hospital, healthcare is provided at very low prices.
For dental care, both locals and expats generally visit private dentists. The cost of dental work, even private, is much lower than in the US and Western Europe.
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