Hungary provides universal healthcare for its citizens, which is funded by a combined effort of citizen taxes and the National Health Insurance Fund (HIF) Országos Egészségbiztosítási Pénztár (OEP). All employed persons pay local and federal income taxes, which are automatically deducted from their salary, and in addition pay an extra fee to the Health Insurance Fund. Employers are also required to pay a percentage to the HIF. The joint effort of employers and employees allows the country to provide healthcare to those citizens who are currently unemployed, disabled, or retired. Alongside the public universal system, there exists a private healthcare system. Some companies offer their employees access to private insurance as a benefit.
In recent years, Hungary has grown as a European destination for medical tourism. Popular health services include cosmetic surgery and rehabilitation practices. In terms of basic standard care, Hungary’s public health care system provides quality care at an affordable price.
Because health benefits are available to all, it is common to find oneself with long waiting times to receive treatment. When dealing under the public health care system you must first see a resident doctor (physician contracted under HIF). You can find doctors in the directories and it is recommended to call in advance to make an appointment in order to avoid a long wait. If treatment is needed by a particular specialist or there is a need for hospital care, you must first be seen by a local medic and receive a referral for the above mentioned.
Hospital services are free of charge for all nationals; however, when given a referral, the doctors provide a specific hospital and if one chooses to seek treatment at another hospital than the one referred, charges for treatment will be made. Other charges can be made if a patient requests additional medication than what is prescribed or if a patient wishes to request a private room.
It is important to also be aware that most public facilities require cash payment after receiving treatment.
Within the private system, individuals are able to avoid the sometimes overcrowding of public facilities and bureaucracy. Private facilities tend to be well prepared with state of the art equipment. Most facilities require proof of insurance before treatment, and similarly to the public system request cash payments.
As part of the Schengen Area, EU/EEA citizens are eligible to receive health care equivalent to that of a Hungarian national, with the possession of the EHIC card. All foreigners, regardless of origin, are eligible to receive free emergency health services.
Although it is not common for all medical facilities to have English speaking medics, the emergency services hotlines have a high number of English speaking employees. Below are useful emergency numbers, including a 24-hour English speaking hotline in the event that you may have difficulties with the others.
Emergency phone numbers: