The healthcare system in Hungary

The healthcare system in Hungary
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Updated 2021-01-11 07:01

Hungary's healthcare system has many advantages. It is easy to get in the system (happens automatically once you start working for a Hungarian company) and the amount of money you actually have to contribute is very little, making public healthcare quite affordable. On the flip side, the quality of services can vary greatly depending on which city youre currently in and the fact that there are not enough doctors means you should be prepared for significant delays.

How the health care system works

The face of healthcare in Hungary has changed a lot over the past decade. In 2010, the Ministry of Health was dissolved and at its place is now a larger entity called 'Ministry of Human Resources', which also covers education, sports, culture and social policies. What this practically means is that not enough time and funds are being directed towards healthcare, which only takes up to 4.8% of the country's GDP. As a result, employers are paying a 'social contribution tax' and the government decides how much of that is funnelled towards healthcare. Employees though are still paying a health insurance contribution (about 3% of gross salary) ' and they have to provide proof of that when they're visiting a doctor.

Overall, the healthcare services in Hungary are currently funded by the National Health Insurance Fund; NEAK in Hungarian. NEAK provides benefits in cash (like sickness benefits, child care allowance and drug reimbursement) and kind (like preventive examinations, primary and specialised care, some dental care) to those who are insured.

One thing you need to take into consideration is the state of Hungarian hospitals and healthcare facilities. There has been a significant attempt to modernise hospitals all over Hungary within the last decade, but surprisingly the capital city of Budapest is the one that has the least modern facilities. In fact, some of the hospitals in Budapest were built in the early 20th century, so they are not meeting modern conditions which cause a strain to resources. Another issue is the doctors' wages not being high enough, therefore not providing enough initiative for young doctors to stay in Hungary. With the existing staff ending up being overworked, there are big delays in public healthcare services ' which in turn is making up to 65% of the people choose private solutions instead.

Are you entitled to healthcare?

First aid and emergency care are free for everyone and everyone is entitled to it, regardless of your nationality or your duration of stay in Hungary. For all other healthcare services, the process varies depending on if you're an EU/EFTA citizen or not.

If you're an EU/EFTA citizen, you can use your European Health Insurance Card in Hungary, which gives you access to free/subsidised treatment in the same terms as Hungarian citizens. You are also entitled to ambulance treatment.

If you're a third-country national and require any other type of healthcare besides first aid/emergency, you will have to pay for the treatment or buy a health insurance. But once you get your residence permit and start working or studying in Hungary, you are also covered by the public healthcare system like Hungarians.

Good to know:

If you're a UK citizen, it is worth checking your options with your embassy or consulate. Hungary and the UK have signed a reciprocal health agreement in the past, which means that (if not affected by Brexit) you are entitled to receive free healthcare in Hungary as you would back home.

Private health insurance in Hungary

Alternatively, there are many insurance companies to choose from in Hungary, according to your needs and budget. Some of the leading health insurance providers are:

Consider having a look at their offers according to your needs and get a free quote on Expat.com's Health Insurance for expatriates in Hungary page.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.