Healthcare in Hungary



Hungary's healthcare system has evolved considerably from the time of monastery infirmaries way back in the eleventh century. Its first public health act, passed in 1876, called for medical practitioners to provide free healthcare to the poor communities.

Citizens coming from the European Union, European Economic Area and Switzerland are allowed to use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to have access to subsidised or free emergency medical services in Hungary. Keep in mind though that the EHIC card doesn’t cover medical tourism and pre-existing conditions. Healthcare in Hungary can be summed up as high quality and low cost. And you can ask any expat who'll readily tell you it's one of the best things about living in this country. The overall condition of healthcare in Hungary is on par with Western standards and currently, many foreign nationals from across the globe are also travelling here for the purpose of medical tourism.

The Hungarian Health Insurance Fund

In contrast to that era's highly centralised, state-socialist principles, the current health care system has been significantly privatised, and is now financed through the Országos Egészségpénztár Penztar (OEP) or National Health Insurance Fund. Today, both employers and employees contribute to the HIF, the former paying 3% of total income and the latter, 15% of employees' salaries plus tax.

Technically speaking, OEP provides free universal coverage for all citizens regardless of their age and employment status. Non-Hungarians are only entitled to free basic services such as emergency, inpatient and outpatient treatment. Expatriates employed by Hungarian companies are entitled to the same benefits that Hungarian nationals have while those working for international companies that have joint ventures in this country are usually eligible to heavily subsidised services. All income earners pay local and national income taxes to subsidise Hungarian healthcare, although individuals need to pay part of the costs for medicines, dental care and rehabilitation to help fund the system.

Visiting a Doctor

When planning to visit any of the doctors in Hungary, an expat can either call for an appointment or walk into a clinic and endure long waiting lines. When walking into a private clinic, the situation can be more comfortable, as a private doctor usually sees fewer patients than someone who is enlisted in public healthcare. Medical practitioners in Hungary are quite popular in Europe for their skills, competence and experience - the reason why citizens of many neighbouring countries cross its border to seek high quality yet low-cost treatment from Hungarian hospitals, especially in Budapest. Expats who may have language difficulties need not worry, as there are many English-speaking doctors around.

Finding them can be as easy as checking the Yellow Pages or requesting assistance at embassies or consulates where a list of English-speaking doctors can be provided. A 24-hour hotline (+36 1 224-9090) is operated by English-speaking attendants is also available. You may also call International Medical Services on 0036-1-129-8423 or 0036-1-149-9349.

Hospitals in Hungary

Hungary is a high-income nation which means that expats can look forward to state of the art medical facilities and infrastructures. Hospitals in this country are called Kórház and can be identified by their white ‘H’ logo on a blue background. Unless it is an emergency situation, patients need to secure a referral from a GP before they can visit a hospital. Services in public medical facilities are usually free of charge upon presentation of the social security card or TB- kártya. The top hospitals in Hungary are:

7623 Pécs, Rákóczi út 2.

Tel: Phone: (72) 536-001

Diószegi út 64. 1113 Budapest

Tel: + 36-1-3651540

Walnut trench 1-3. 1125 Budapest

Tel: 1/458 4500

8900 Zalaegerszeg, Zrínyi u. 1. Zala County

Tel: 92 / 507-500

Emergency Services and Pharmacies

Emergency treatment is free for everyone, including expats and tourists. The Hungarian law also strictly dictates that any public or private health facility should provide emergency services regardless if the patient is insured or not. Citizens of EU nations may also use ambulance services with costs paid by their individual health insurances equivalent to the cost in their home countries. Hungary prides itself on having an emergency response team called National Ambulance Service also known locally as Országos MentĹ‘szolgálat (OMSZ). The NAS has 20 ambulance stations and more than 200 ambulances that can reach any part of the country in 15 minutes. In case of emergency, expats in Hungary can also call:

  • SOS Emergency Medical Service

Kerepesi utca 15. Budapest VIII.

Tel: 0036-1-118-8288 or 0036-1-118-801

  • Ambulance: 104
  • EU Emergency line: 112
  • Fire Department: 105
  • Police: 107

Pharmacies are always the best place to go for medicines in Hungary, although over-the-counter ones may be purchased from petrol stations or supermarkets. Prescriptions made by overseas doctors are not honoured in Hungary, which means expats need to get new prescriptions from a Hungarian physician. For common ailments, locals usually go to their pharmacist who is allowed to recommend medications such as painkillers and tablets for stomach upsets.

*Contents of Visiting a Doctor section integrated in this article.