EU report gives Hungarian health-care a poor bill of health

June 13, 2017

Hungary has the highest cancer fatality rate in the European Union according to the first Hungarian health-care system review that was compiled by Ministry of Human Resources workgroups under the coordination of the National Healthcare Services Center (ÁEEK), reports napi.hu.

According to the review’s findings, although figures show an improving trend, Hungary’s fallback from the European average increased in the most crucial causes of death, such as diseases of the circulatory system, and cervical, breast, laryngeal, bronchial, tracheal, colon and colorectal cancer.

The review states that, had the Hungarian health-care system been in a better condition and diseases diagnosed and treated earlier, the life of some 32,000 patients could have been saved in 2014 alone.

The review also highlighted a huge divergence among patients based on the place of treatment and education. The difference between the life expectancy of men in the more affluent Central-Hungary region and the poorest Northern-Hungary region is nearly seven years, while among women this difference is more than eight years.

Men with only primary education live 12 years less than their peers with higher education. Aamong women, the difference is 5.6 years.

The length of waiting lists also shows great territorial divergence. In Central-Hungary patients have to wait 31 days for specific treatments, while patients in the Southern-Transdanubia (Dél-Dunántúl) region have to wait nearly four times as long (110 days). The national average is 53 days.

In the examined period, 22 percent of the Hungarian households had unexpected medical expenses they could not afford.

The lack of health-care deemed necessary affected seven percent of the population in 2014. Roma people were 2.2 times more likely to lack necessary treatment than the rest of the population. Those with only primary education had 1.8 times more chance to lack treatment than those with higher education, reads the report.

The Hungarian health-care system has been underfinanced since the political system change of 1989. Governments of the last 25 years either failed in reforming health-care or did not try at all. The system suffers from huge debts, dire doctor shortage, disastrous infrastructure and corruption.