When preparing to study in a foreign country, it is important that international students familiarize themselves with the health care and insurance system of their host country. This way, the student will be prepared should the unexpected happen and they become ill or injured during their studies.
Hungary provides publically funded health insurance, meaning that health insurance is free for all its citizens. Its health insurance coverage extends to include those non-Hungarian citizens who are insured under the National Health Insurance Fund (Országos Egészségpénztár Penztar – OEP).
In order to receive a student visa, one of the requirements that must be fulfilled is obtaining valid health insurance. A valid health insurance plan means that you are in possession of an insurance policy which will cover at least 30,000 EUR of medical costs to include emergency health services, transport home in the event of a medical emergency, and it must be applicable for the full duration of your time abroad. Generally, domestic health insurance policies do not provide coverage which includes overseas expenses. The best thing to do is to first get in contact with your current insurance provider to ask if your current policy allows for you to incur overseas costs to include emergency coverage in the event of hospitalization or evacuation. Often times when traveling with a school or company sponsored program, health insurance is included within the program cost. However, if enrolling directly into a Hungarian university, the tuition fees often do not include a health insurance charge, meaning that you must purchase it separately.
Whether you have an active insurance policy which extends overseas or you have purchased travel insurance, it is important to note that most Hungarian medical facilities expect cash payments upfront. The option to bill your insurer directly is a service that will not be offered. This means that despite your overseas coverage you should expect to make an initial payment at the time of service and then request a reimbursement from your insurer. All insurance companies deal with reimbursements in a different manner, so it is best to do research on your specific policy so that you can submit a claim as soon as possible after treatment. Often times insurance companies request a proof of treatment and payment so be sure to save all forms that you receive.
EU/EEA nationals are able to receive basic health services with the use of their EHIC card. When carrying their EHIC card, students can receive services at a reduced price or sometimes even for free. Often, free healthcare is provided for services that are deemed a medical necessity. Students must be sure to present the card at the time of service to the front desk of the medical facility.
However, it is recommended that students still purchase travel insurance. Although the EHIC card makes students eligible to receive healthcare equivalent to that of Hungarian nationals, it does not cover non-emergency services or injuries from extreme sports. Non-emergency services can include requesting medical treatment for a common cold, basic check-up, etc.