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The staggering state of health care in Hungary

Health care is underfunded, there are not enough doctors, and the differences are huge: those with lower qualifications still die 9 years earlier than those with a degree, reports

Despite the improvement in the last 15 years, the life expectancy at birth in Hungary is still way below the European Union average. The Hungarian health care system is underfunded, the healthcare expenditures per head are way below the EU average.

The life expectancy in 2015 was 75.7 years, which was an increase compared to the 71.9 years in 2000. A life expectancy lower than the Hungarian can only be measured in Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, and Lithuania.

According to the data, men’s life expectancy is almost 7 years shorter that that of women’s (72.3 for men, 79 for women). The contrast is salient between different social-economic groups, too: men with a low educational level live 9 years less on average than those who have a university degree.


The report also states that in 2014, more than a quarter of Hungarian adults smoked on a daily basis, making

Hungarians one of the strongest smokers in Europe.

The frequency of obesity grew as well (more than one fifth of Hungarian adults were obese) and 38% of Hungarian 15 year-olds were drunk more than once in their lifetime.

The main causes of death are still the cardiovascular diseases, and the rate of these in Hungary is much higher than in the EU, especially because of smoking and obesity. The other main cause of death is cancer, but the number of deaths caused by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is increasing rapidly, which reflects the ageing of the population, the better diagnostics, the lack of efficient treatment and the more exact coding. Although in Hungary the number of registered new HIV-infections is still under the EU average, still it is concerning that the number of these cases increased by 250%.

Hardly more than half of the Hungarians (56%) believes to be in a good health, which is the lowest rank in the European Union.

The funding of health care is way below the European average, and in the last decade this disparity grew further, since the EU average increased significantly, the Hungarian: hardly.  In 2015, in Hungary 1428 euro per person was spent on health care, which is about half of the EU average of 2797 euros. Moreover, only two-third of health care funding come from a national source, the share of expenditure paid from people’s own pocket is high, therefore accessibility is far from being equal, not everyone can afford the same treatment.

All in all, Hungary is one of the EU countries where the number of deaths avoidable by treatment is the highest.

Hungarian health care is centred around hospital treatment: in 2015, patients spent and average of 9.5 days in hospital, which is among the highest numbers in the EU.

The number of doctors is also below the EU average (for 1000 inhabitants, there is 3.1 doctors, while the average is 3.6) the same way as the number of nurses (6.5 for 1000 inhabitants, and the EU average is 8.4).

Only a small portion of doctors are GPs, and almost half of them are over 60 years old. Since only 10% of them is under 40 years-old, the accessibility of basic treatment may decrease even further in the future.

According to the report, the scholarship program and the promised rise of wages had an impact on doctors and less health care workers moved abroad.


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