Health in Hungary

Hungary has a tax-funded universal healthcare system, organized by the state-owned National Health Insurance Fund (Hungarian: Országos Egészségbiztosítási Pénztár (OEP)). Universal health insurance is absolutely free for children (every people under 16), mothers or fathers with baby, students, pensioners (every people over 62), people with socially poor background, handicapped people (including physical and mental disorders),[1] priests and other church employees.[2] Health in Hungary can be described with a rapidly growing life expectancy (6.92 years growing for men and 4.57 years for women since 1993)[3] and a very low infant mortality rate (4.9 per 1,000 live births in 2012).[3] According to the OECD Hungary spent 7.8% of the GDP on health care in 2012, total health expenditure was 1,688.7 US$ per capita in 2011, 1,098.3 US$ governmental-fund (65%) and 590.4 US$ private-fund (35%).[4]


The first hospitals go back to the 13th century mining towns of Hungary. The first mining health insurance was founded by János Thurzó in 1496. The first modern insurer was established in 1907, named Országos Munkásbetegsegélyező és Balesetbiztosító Pénztár ("National Workers' Sick-benefit and Accident Fund").

The first steps to overall health insurance took place in the Horthy era with the creation of Országos Társadalombiztosítási Intézet (lit. "National Social Insurance Institution") in 1928 (It is the predecessor of present-day Országos Egészségbiztosítási Pénztár.). Social servises got complete to 1938, at that time the Hungarian social health insurance system was the most progressive and charitable in East-Central Europe.

After the World War II the Communist government fully nationalized the social insurance, since then Hungarian healthcare system is state-owned, overall and available for all of the people.[5]

The free-market shift initiated after the end of communist rule 25 years ago put a strain on the largely centralised, wholly tax-funded public health system, which required far-reaching reforms.[6] These resulted in the creation of the National Healthcare Fund (Hungarian: Országos Egészségbiztosítási Pénztár), in 1993.[7] The OEP, predominantly based on a social insurance system,[6] is the public organization currently controlling the management of health care in Hungary.[7] Eighty-three percent of the financing for the health care comes from taxes and other public revenues.[8]

Participation in the insurance scheme is mandatory for everyone in the workforce, including also the self-employed.[9] Most private hospitals also operate under the OEP framework.[7] 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.[6]

So-called "gratitude payments", another communist legacy, require in practice a cash payment to have access to better treatments.[6] Medical treatment deemed "medically necessary" is provided free of charge for European citizens in the country.[10]


As a high-income nation, Hungary has a relatively developed health infrastructure. Ambulances of the Országos Mentőszolgálat (OMSZ, "National Ambulance Service") reach all over the country at the very latest 15 minutes. Until the late 2013 OMSZ will built 20 new ambulance stations and will renew 60 others with the purchase of 200 new ambulances.[11]

Air ambulance service got complete to 2009 with the grand opening of Szentes air ambulance station. Air ambulance bases (in Budaörs, Balatonfüred, Sármellék, Pécs, Szentes, Debrecen, Miskolc) cover all over Hungary, helicopters reach 85% of the country's territory at the very latest 15 minutes. Every national and county hospitals have heliport, including the specialized and most professional university clinics and emergency centres in Budapest, Pécs, Szeged and Debrecen.[12][13]

Hungarian Homeland Defence Forces also has air ambulences, the army's hospital in Budapest, named Magyar Honvédség Központi Kórháza - Állami Egészségügyi Központ ("Central Hospital of the Hungarian Homeland Defence Forces - State Medical Centre"), is the most prominent hospital in Hungary. Military helicopters also can landing at its heliport.[14]


Despite recent improvements, life expectancy in Hungary is still among the lowest in the European Union.[15] Roma people have a life expectancy up to ten years lower than for ethnic Hungarians.[6]

Year Life expectancy (years, Man/Woman) Infant mortality rate (‰)
1949 59.28 / 63.40 91.0
1960 65.89 / 70.10 47.6
1970 66.31 / 72.08 35.9
1980 65.45 / 72.70 23.2
1990 65.13 / 73.71 14.8
2001 68.15 / 76.46 8.1
2011 70.93 / 78.23 4.9
2012 71.45 / 78.38 4.9


Regional differences

According to the last Országos Lakossági Egészségfelmérés ("National Population Health Survey") was held in 2003 the most healthy region is Western Transdanubia and the last is the Southern Great Plain. There are huge differences between the western and eastern parts of Hungary, heart disease, hypertension, stroke and suicide is prevalent in the mostly agricultural and low-income characteristic Great Plain (can be described as the Hungarian Stroke Belt), but infrequent in the high-income and middle class characteristic Western Transdanubia. Central Hungary (region of Budapest) is between east and west by health.[16]

See also