Healthcare in Hungary, Hungary Health Info - Allo' Expat Hungary
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Hungary Healthcare

The free-market shift initiated after the end of the communist rule 20 years ago put a strain on the largely centralised, wholly tax-funded public health system, which required far-reaching reforms. These resulted in the creation of the National Healthcare Fund (Országos Egészségbiztosítási Pénztár), in 1993. The OEP, predominantly based on a social insurance system, is the public organisation currently controlling the management of healthcare in Hungary. 83% of the financing for the healthcare comes from taxes and other public revenues.

Participation in the insurance scheme is mandatory for everyone in the workforce, including also the self-employed. Unlike the previous system, the OEP is under supervision of the local governments, and authority is shared between the municipalities and the counties. Most private hospitals also operate under the OEP framework. Because of the past hiring policies, Hungarian hospitals often have redundancies of doctors, and a lack of nurses, resulting in an unproductive misuse of human resources.

So-called "gratitude payments", another communist legacy, require in practice a cash payment to have access to better treatments, and is caused by lower-than-average wages in the health sector. The current universal coverage system is believed to be the origin of the large budget deficits of Hungary, and the recent economic crisis made a healthcare reform a priority for the government. Attempts at reform were so far met with resistance in the management and in the workforce, and rapidly alternating governments have been unable to make lasting changes to the system, with many governments interrupting reform programs initiated by their predecessors.

Despite recent improvements, life expectancy in Hungary is still among the lowest in Europe, even lower than in other former eastern bloc countries; minorities, such as the Roma people, have a life expectancy up to 10 years lower than for ethnic Hungarians. Medical treatment deemed "medically necessary" is provide free of charge for European citizens in the country.