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The quality of healthcare in Hungary is up to the standards of most Western countries. This, combined with the relatively low cost of medical treatment in Hungary, has made the country a burgeoning medical tourism destination.
Healthcare in Hungary is financed by the Health Insurance Fund (HIF), which allows access to a wide variety of treatments in public hospitals. The HIF is funded by public contributions and money from the state.
Public healthcare in Hungary
Although treatment is generally good, public healthcare services in Hungary still have their fair share of challenges. Public doctors are not well-paid, and many of the best doctors opt to work in the private sector instead.
This has led to the public sector becoming understaffed and overburdened. Waiting times for non-essential surgery can be long and it is not unheard of for doctors to supplement their low salaries by accepting under-the-table payments from patients in exchange for a better quality of medical care.
Private healthcare in Hungary
Even though the HIF grants access to subsidised or free medical care and prescription medications, some expats still find that they prefer to have private health insurance and treatment. This allows access to private hospitals with shorter waiting times and usually more English-speaking staff than in public hospitals.
Hungary's combination of affordability and technical prowess in the private sector has led to its rise as a popular medical tourism destination. Dental and cosmetic surgery, rehabilitative practices, eye surgery and joint surgery are all popular.
Pharmacies in Hungary
Hungary has a large pharmaceutical industry. As a result, medications are plentiful and the country has a high concentration of pharmacies. Pharmacies in the public sector provide subsidised prescription medication, so while patients must make a contribution, the fee is usually nominal.
Health insurance in Hungary
Expats who are working or studying in Hungary are covered under the HIF through mandatory contributions. Applying for a health insurance card, known as a Társadalomizosítási Azonosító Jet (TAJ) Card, at the local health authority in one’s residential area is relatively simple once a work permit is in order.
All foreigners, including tourists, are automatically covered for first aid and emergency treatment in Hungary.
Citizens from the EU and EEA are able to use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in Hungary. The card gives members access to free or subsidised medical treatment at state facilities in any of the EU-member states. Citizens of qualifying countries need to apply for the card in their home country, and it is available free of charge. Some countries do still charge EHIC holders for medical treatment, but the cardholder is reimbursed by either their host country or home country.
The card does not give cardholders access to medical treatment for pre-existing conditions, but it does cover chronic conditions. Travelling to another country for the sole purpose of medical treatment (i.e. medical tourism) is also not covered by the EHIC. Therefore, private health insurance is a necessity for those coming into Hungary for medical tourism purposes.
Emergency services in Hungary
Emergency services are generally good in Hungary – they usually arrive on the scene within 15 minutes of receiving a call. There will usually be someone who speaks English on staff at the main emergency call centre to handle calls, otherwise expats can dial the EU emergency line on 112.
Fire department: 105
EU emergency line: 112
Are you an expat living in Hungary?
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