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 the country, has made Hungary 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 the state as well as by public contributions.
Public healthcare in Hungary
Although treatment is generally excellent, public healthcare services in Hungary still have their fair share of challenges. Doctors in the public sector are not well paid, and many of the best physicians opt to work in the private sector instead.
This has led to the public sector being understaffed and overburdened, so waiting times for non-essential surgery can be long.
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 expats admission 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, cosmetic, eye and joint surgery as well as rehabilitative practices 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 generally nominal.
Health insurance in Hungary
Expats who are studying or working in Hungary are covered under the HIF through mandatory contributions. Applying for a health insurance card, known as a Társadalombiztosítási Azonosító Jelet (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.
EU citizens can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access state healthcare during a short-term visit. UK citizens can make use of their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which replaced the EHIC for UK citizens post-Brexit.
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 to Hungary for medical tourism purposes.
Emergency services in Hungary
Emergency services are generally adequate in Hungary – they usually arrive on the scene within 15 minutes of receiving a call. There will typically 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