What things are difficult if you are American in Budapest?

I will be in Hungary in a month and be staying for a while. 

1.  are there doctors or clinics I can visit easily?
2.  how much are doctor visits there?
3.  can I get dry eye eye drops over the counter? 
4.  if my US doctor writes my prescriptions, will I be able to fill them there, or will I need Hungarian doctor to write generic equivalents. 
5.  what OTC medications and drug store products do you wish you had brought with you.

I usually tend to wing it, but Hungary sounds much more complicated for those of us not from the EU.  To explain why I ask all this, in India I just went to the hospital pharmacy and filled many scripts easily. 

I do have travel insurance as well as my Blue Cross Blue Shield, but I suspect I will have to pay first and deal with reimbursement later. :huh:

The US State Dept. and the Embassy in Budapest web sites have info that answers some of your questions:

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_t … ml#medical


As for what OTC medication I would bring? Aspirin. It is only available in pharmacies, and it is very expensive for such a basic medication.

Firstmed is a great place and the services are "American-like". They are pricier than Hungarian hospitals obviously, but the service is fantastic. Firstmed has prices online or you can call and ask.

I don't know anything about eyes :)

Only Hungarian doctors can write rx for Hungary. Just like in America how doctors can only write rx for the state where their licenses are registered in, it's the same here.

I've run out of loads of medicine here and seem to be just fine asking for the equivalent at the pharmacies. I usually tell them what I'm using or bring the active ingredient name and they can help. I think cold medicine from America is somewhat better though (like Sudafed gel capsules, things like that).

"Over the Counter" here means, literally, over the counter - you must get everything medical-related (except band-aids and feminine napkins) at a pharmacy, and you either have to know exactly what you want (generic name) or explain your symptoms and let them give you something (which for me, never ever works).  I rarely get a pharmacist that speaks English, so sometimes I suffer for days, searching the internet for European equivalents of American drugs.  I found this site to be helpful:
  I bring EVERYTHING with me in the States.  Just get your prescriptions filled at home and bring them.  FirstMed is supposedly great, but about the price of paying a doctor in America without insurance.  If you have money, and are only here for a month, I say go for it.  I've heard great things.  As a student, I can't afford it, so I've never been.  I have crappy University insurance and go to crappy clinics with rude doctors who give me antibiotics for everything and never check my vitals.
If you can't tell, I'm a little bit disenchanted with the Hungarian health system.

The pharmacists at Oktogon speak English and are so helpful. I have never had a problem there. :)

You can visit a private doctor and pay cash, prices do vary depending on the service and specialty.
A good guess is somewhere around $25. to $50. for a visit.
Not too bad really because with the national health card we tip around $25. to $50. a visit.
It is the custom to tip, if you are from the west they do expect it , if not be aware that you might not get the best service on your next visit. Every Hungarian I know tips as well, maybe slightly less then we do but still very close to what we tip.
They will write out their own scripts for you, US scripts won't do you any good in HU.
Expect to wait even if you have an appointment.
Many offices do not have  X-ray machines ect. so you will be sent elsewhere for tests, maybe tip there too.
The HU gov. is frowning on the medical profession taking tips so you may find some doctors will refuse an extra tip but from our experiences over the past 25 odd years, most will happily take them.
Eye drops, aspirin, cough med's etc. have to be purchased from a pharmacy, you can not buy them OTC.
Even rubbing alcohol must be purchased  from a pharmacy.
I miss my "pink stuff" Pepto for stomach upsets, have not found anything in HU that works as well.
I bring along a huge bottle of aspirin from the US every time I visit the states.
I am a bit confused about the medical treatments in HU against those in the US.
I had knee surgery in HU last year. Now in the states on a visit and my doctors in the states have a totally different approach to my treatments. Never needed the knee surgery I had in HU as it did nothing for my problem.
I could write a book on  my strange time in the HU hospital, a real nightmare of sorts. No one spoke a word of English , the nursing staff was rude and I would rather die then go back again.
Husband had hernia surgery in HU, they did a great job on him. Of course he speaks HU and he was in a different hospital then I went to.
50-50 odds, maybe it is all luck and who treats you, good luck and stay well.
just a thought, my husband speaks perfect HU, was born and raised there, lived in the US for ages so knows something of both systems. He doesn't see much difference as far as doctors in both places being more into profit then actual care.
In HU we feel it is sometimes better to just go to a private doctor for treatment then to use the national health.
Not sure why but even with he tips the gov. doctors don't seem to be motivated as much to do their best.
We use a private dentist because our district dentist who is assingned to our address is terrible. He forgets we pre paid for materials etc.does a terrible job,many locals say the gov. dentist make extra holes so you must return sooner then normal for more fillings. Sounds really bad and I do not want to mess with my teeth.
Had X-rays in the US recently and found my HU dentist missed a few cavities. I had gone to her in HU just before my US holiday to be sure my teeth were in good order.
It is very confusing, not sure if it is done of purpose or if their equipment is faulty in HU.
Like I said, 50-50, good luck.

That is really good information.  It would never occur to me to tip a medical doctor.  A waitress, yes.  A doctor, no.  I have heard hospital staff can be rough in some places.  Would tipping your nurse or doctor there be useful?

Yes, it can be very useful to tip but still not a sure thing.
My FIL did not tip his dentist years ago and so the wrong tooth was pulled out.
My husband tipped over $300. for his hernia surgery and from what he heard from the guys sharing his hospital room they all tipped about the same amount for the same surgery.
The thing is if you see a private doctor or go to a private clinic, I would not think you would have to tip as you are paying the full price cash up front.
Having said that I do go to a private dentist and my husband tends to tip a bit extra on top of the posted price.
That does upset me but he thinks it will keep the dentists mind sharp for my next visit. If he doesn't tip the doctor or dentist he will usually tip the assistant a few thousand forints.
From what I know tipping medical staff is a old custom from way back. Usually farmers would tip in the form of some sausages, wine, eggs whatever against any house calls because they were low on cash.
Somehow this old custom got twisted during the communist years to giving funds under the table to doctors because their wages were low. Wages are still on the low side in HU compared to what doctors make in the west but still I think they make allot in tips tax free.
Many young doctors are leaving HU and going west to make more money. The ones still in HU are either tied there because of family or getting too old to try somewhere else.Many of their best are going faster then they can handle which does allow for the ones in HU to run wild somewhat with the way they do things.
I have had some really good experiences with doctors in HU but many negative ones as well. More negative then positive I hate to say.
Again, if you are in a clinic that treats many westerners, then tipping probably isn't done because the prices are higher as it is then in a clinic that mostly treats Hungarians.
Our neighbor and her daughter are 62 and 83, they are Hungarians and they still have not totally figured out what is going on in Hu with the doctors. They still run into issues that we do as newcomers in HU.
We have asked many HU neighbors what is the correct amount to tip and no one really seems to know exactly how much is right. Too much and you look the fool and too low and you are not taken seriously.
My elderly HU MIL used to tip only 3,000 forints a month for her doctor to make his house call for her monthly check up.This helps to pay for gas etc. for the doctor even though most of the tab is covered by national health.
Once a month the doctor came to the town and spent the day making housecalls on the elderly. At 3,000 or so each, he did pocket a nice amount for the day tax free of course. In no way do I feel sorry for the doctors getting lower then average wages.
I wish this old custom would just fade away.
I shared my hospital room with a HU women of 80. She had broken her hip 2 weeks before and was in hospital all that time.Her grandson visited daily and tipped everyone. He was upset because they treated his grannie terrible. I witnessed this the night  I was there. Around midnight 2 nurses had a screaming match with this poor frightened old lady. They had already taken away her buzzer and triangle bar so that she was trapped in bed.
I was embarrassed for her because in the morning when they had a male orderly help change her bedpan and move her to another bed, they put her out in the nude with the door open for over 5 mins.
This same strange man tried to get me to strip pre surgery in front of him before he wheeled  me into surgery. I just about limped out of the hospital at that point. I had to put the sheet he had thrown at me over my head like a tent because he refused to turn away as I undressed for surgery. No hospital gowns in HU, totally nude for any surgery.
That's a bit different then the US where you are at least partly covered with a gown.
They were mean as could be with her, with me it was like I did not excist. I was literally tossed some stale bread plain for breakfast and poured some lukewarm tea, that was it until lunch which was not much better then breakfast.
You must have family or friends bring you good food in most hospitals because they do not feed you much, nothing to recover on, bread and water!!
I don't know why they were so bad with this women, she was weak and old and they couldn't be bothered with her.
My physical therapist came into the room before I was let go, she did her job showing me how to go up stairs etc. with crutches, showed me a couple of knee exercises to do  and went to get my crutches for me. My husband tipped her after the hour she spent helping me out, then all of a sudden her face lite up and she finally smiled.  At my husbands hospital the staff was smiling and nice and the food was good. After he tipped his doctor the doc actually fluffed up my husbands pillows! Weird...

In US, every time I go to dentist he finds something other dentists missed and he is always ready to go for a few $100 here and there.
I cannot remember how many times various dentists in US suggested capping my teeth with expensive crowns or pulling my perfectly healthy wisdom teeth. I literally have to tell them NO 10 times before they give up.


In US, every time I go to dentist he finds something other dentists missed and he is always ready to go for a few $100 here and there.

I went to a dentist in Hungary who looked over my teeth, and said there was nothing wrong. I asked how much was the visit, and he said "nothing, because I didn't do anything". He even refused when I offered a tip.

Just one difference between the US (where money is everything) and Hungary.

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