When you’re traveling, getting sick can be daunting—especially when you don’t speak the local language and aren’t familiar with the healthcare systems. It’s overwhelming trying to figure out what steps to take next. Read this guide about public and private healthcare in Hungary, and find the best available medical treatment for your needs.
Navigating Healthcare in Hungary
A quick overview of the Hungarian healthcare system
Hungary offers appropriate healthcare for all, including foreign visitors. This includes primary and secondary care as well as emergency services. State-owned medical facilities are generally the most affordable and accessible, but they may not be able to offer all the same treatment as private providers. Furthermore, public care doesn’t cover specific medications, medical equipment, or additional services. Private clinics and hospitals in Hungary charge at the time of service, but private health insurance may reimburse their costs.
Is healthcare free in Hungary?
Public healthcare in Hungary is state-financed by social security contributions, therefore is generally free for Hungarian citizens, foreigners employed by a local company, and students. It’s important to know that this applies only to treatments at public healthcare institutions, and charges may apply for specific medications, medical equipment, or additional services.
Foreigners in Hungary, including tourists, automatically receive emergency first aid care. Practically this means if sudden sickness or accident happens, you will get treatment at state-owned institutions. However, your treatment will be free for you only if your home country has a special agreement with Hungary. Otherwise, if you don’t have international health or travel insurance, you will be charged for the services you receive.
Do EU citizens have access to free healthcare in Hungary?
EU citizens visiting Hungary are eligible for treatment at no cost at public health institutions with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). However, this covers only urgent medical care and emergency treatment that can’t wait until returning home, like acute illnesses, injuries, pregnancy, childbirth, or chronic health conditions. It is not a substitute for travel insurance, as it doesn’t cover specific treatments, like private hospital care or non-emergency services.
How to get medical treatment in Hungary
If you need urgent medical care, you can contact your nearest public hospital on duty (in Hungarian: ügyeletes kórház) or medical clinic (in Hungarian: rendelőintézet), or call 112 for an ambulance. The hospital will treat you and then bill you for the cost of your treatment. It’s necessary to bring your passport and insurance card.
In addition to public providers, there are many private clinics and hospitals in Budapest that can provide quality care for urgent issues and acute illnesses, although it has to be paid for.
It is best to purchase private travel insurance before visiting Hungary and check if your policy covers medical treatment beyond emergency first aid.
Benefits of private healthcare in Hungary
Hungary has many high-quality private medical facilities, and locals often choose to receive treatment from them over the state system. Many expats also find the private sector preferable in Budapest, the capital city.
Why choose private medical treatment in Hungary?
In Budapest, various private institutions offer both outpatient and inpatient care. They provide shorter waiting times, an extended array of specialists, and state-of-the-art facilities. However, the options are much more limited if you seek English-speaking medical help.
When choosing your healthcare provider, consider the following key factors:
Break down language barriers
Adequate communication of symptoms is crucial for accurate diagnosis and treatment. English-speaking doctors are not much available in Hungary’s public and private hospitals.
At FirstMed, all our staff are fluent in English, meaning you can effortlessly discuss your concerns, from scheduling appointments to understanding complex medical processes. If English isn’t your first language, we have multilingual doctors who can help you feel comfortable during appointments.
Find a doctor you trust
Under public healthcare, referrals restrict you to specific local healthcare providers. Private clinics allow more flexibility, letting you choose the physician you trust.
At FirstMed, we offer English-speaking doctors across 20+ specialties alongside various in-house diagnostic screenings for adults and children. This allows us to serve as a one-stop shop for patients with diverse medical needs.
Minimize waiting time
Patients often experience long waiting lists at state hospitals in Hungary. In contrast, private healthcare providers can schedule an appointment much faster. In 2022, patients waited for a doctor’s appointment for an average of 8 days in private centers, compared to 30 days in the public sector.
Even if you have an appointment at a public health center, there is no guarantee that you will be seen on time. In public healthcare, you might have to wait 25 minutes for an average treatment of 13 minutes. Patients at private clinics are usually seen and treated in 10 minutes or less, vs. 20-minute waits for the same care at public institutions.
Waiting may cost you time and delay valuable diagnoses or treatments. This is another reason why many locals and foreigners choose private healthcare providers in Hungary.
Although government-owned medical institutions are generally well-equipped, not all facilities are as modern as private clinics. Private healthcare providers in Budapest can invest in top-tier technology, ensuring a higher standard of patient care. At FirstMed, we are committed to offering you premium facilities and treatments via our cutting-edge medical equipment.
Control your medical costs
Private healthcare may be out of reach financially, but there are options to reduce these costs.
Leverage your private health insurance
Private medical insurance can help cover the medical expenses of foreigners staying in Budapest. Many people are surprised to learn that private health insurance can be used outside their home country. If you have an international plan, it may cover some or all of your medical expenses in Hungary.
A private provider like FirstMed may seamlessly coordinate your high-quality medical care, and your private health insurance may even cover its entire cost, depending on your policy terms.
At FirstMed Budapest, we have concluded direct billing agreements with over 110 private insurance providers. This way, we can arrange your claim directly with your insurance company. So you may leave the clinic without needing to open your wallet! If we cannot accept your insurance, we will provide you with the necessary paperwork so that you can file a claim yourself.
Avail special offers
For those without private health insurance or with high copays or deductibles, we offer cost-effective healthcare plans for long-term stays in Hungary. These give affordable access to high-quality medical treatments from English-speaking doctors, including special packages for expectant mothers and their newborns.
Navigating health care in a foreign land can be challenging, and language barriers make it even more difficult. However, with FirstMed, you’re in safe hands. Our full-service, English-speaking clinic is here to ensure your health needs are comprehensively met while you’re in Hungary. We want you to feel comfortable and safe, regardless of the medical situation.
Book an appointment with us today, and feel the FirstMed difference!
Last updated: August 13, 2023