According to data of the Central Statistical Office (KSH), this year is the first time when expenditure devoted to healthcare service has fallen below 7% of the GDP. Out of the 6.9%, only 4.8% is financed by the state; the rest is paid by patients. 

Concerning the issue, Válaszonline carried out a comprehensive analysis; within the framework of which, the portal intended to find answers for the following significant questions:


1. Why do patients need to wait months or years for medical operation, when 14,000 hospital beds are empty?

The facts: 34% of hospital beds are empty, partly for financial reasons – money is not sufficient to carry out operations.

Development of the private health service is based on this contradiction. In order to avoid long waiting, patients choose private clinics; it does not matter that they need to pay more for these services. However, the majority of private clinics staff is made up of state doctors and nurses.

In order to alleviate the budgetary crisis, leftist governments took away significant amounts from the health system, by which state bankruptcy could be avoided. Since 2006, its financing is less than 8% of the GDP.

For this year, this ratio has even worsened – it is the first time when it has fallen below 7%. Furthermore, only 4.8% is financed by the state, while the rest is paid by patients, even in the most challenging situations.

Among Visegrád countries, Hungary and Poland are ranked in the last two places.

The lack of resources in Hungary can be explained by the remaining contradiction between waiting lists and overcapacity. According to the National Health Insurance Fund (NEAK), the occupancy rate of the 41,000 Hungarian hospital beds is 66%, out of which daily an average of 14,000 are empty since patients choose to spend their money for private health care.

The three possible solutions:

  • Elimination of “excess” – closing hospitals, clinics;
  • Enhanced marketing of those capacities which are not financed by the state;
  • Significant increase in health care spending.

The first two are politically too risky and professionally not justified. It could bring a solution if more money would be spent on health care, and modern technologies would be supported. Thus, the patient could spend less time in hospital and institutions could apply advanced techniques. However, the introduction of these procedures costs more in the short term; in order to stimulate this, a greater proportion of GDP should be spent on health care.

2. Why do patients feel more neglected if the news is continually reporting about financial supports devoted to the health care system?

According to Válaszonline, the significant amounts of financial support – which are reported in the news – are created by planning next year’s budget below the previous year’s actual figures. Therefore, hospitals are continuously accumulating debt; they cannot pay the bills. Their support is realised at the end of the year – when they get to the edge of operability.

3. How can happen that wages in the health care system are increasing, while its GDP share has reduced?

The facts: proportionally, less financial support was devoted to the operation of hospitals and clinics.

Expenses can be categorised into two main groups – 1. employee-related costs,  and 2. material expenses. Every year, these amounts are clearly recorded in the Budget Act. In 2012, the proportion of material expenses was 53%. In 2014, it dropped below the critical 50%, which index even decreased to 40% in 2018.

This year, this ratio is even worse –  below 39%. That is why patients feel that hospitals are characterised by a deficit. Meanwhile, the amount spent on wages has increased by 22%, which is an essential factor; however, not by neglecting material expenses.


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