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Hungary is a member state of the European Union and as such UK citizens can expect to receive free, state-provided healthcare while living, working or travelling within Hungary as long as they have a valid European Health Insurance Card (E111). However, it’s important to note that the type of healthcare provided free of charge in Hungary may not always be the same as that available in the UK. In some instances, you may be expected to make a contribution towards the cost of the care you receive or non-urgent medical treatment may be refused to visitors on a temporary stay in the country. The following guide is intended to provide an overview of current healthcare provision in Hungary for UK citizens and will remain valid up until the UK leaves the EU. Future healthcare provision for UK nationals in Hungary will depend on the terms agreed under which the UK ceases to be a member state and leaves the EU.
Healthcare provision for UK citizens in Hungary
If/when the UK leaves the EU, healthcare provision for UK citizens in Hungary may change ( see below), especially if the UK leaves without a deal. In the meantime, if you intend visiting Hungary make sure you carry a valid EHIC as this will entitle you to free, state-provided healthcare if you need medical care during your stay. There are some exceptions to what is covered by the EHIC.
- EHIC will not cover you for cosmetic surgery, hair-replacement therapy, dental implants, and other treatments. These kinds of non-essential treatments have become increasingly popular in Hungary in recent years and tend to be less expensive than in the UK, for example. If you travel to Hungary for any one of the above treatments, you will have to pay for them as a private patient. This applies whether you pre-book the treatment or decide on it during your stay.
- If you come to Hungary for a planned medical procedure, prior authorisation is required and a consent form E 112/S2 provided by your insurer. Planned medical care or treatment will not be covered by your EHIC.
- You will not be covered for certain rescue services, including mountain rescue.
- EHIC does not cover travel costs/arrangements for bringing you back to the UK following an accident or if you fall ill during your stay in the country. You need to take out private travel insurance to cover repatriation costs to the UK in the event of illness or injury while abroad.
A valid EHIC offers many benefits but it’s important to ensure you also have adequate travel insurance to cover any additional medical care you need while in Hungary, especially if you have a pre-existing health condition. Receipts for the cost of such treatment should be retained and presented to your insurer so you can claim a refund. As stated earlier, your EHIC means you can expect to receive the same state-provided medical treatment as a Hungarian citizen during your stay. If you are asked to pay for medical treatment upfront, check to see you are not being offered private medical care instead. If treatment is arranged by your hotel, travel agent or another third party, you should also make sure the treatment is being provided via the state system and not by a clinic or private healthcare provider.
Some key emergency numbers in Hungary
- Call 112 for all general emergency enquiries and you will be directed to the appropriate emergency service.
- Or dial 104 if you need an ambulance – you will not have to pay for this service.
- 107 is the number to call if you are the victim of a crime, need police assistance or want to report an incident. SMS service for the deaf (in Budapest) is available on (20) 900 0107.
- 105 is the number to call for the fire service.
- If you lose your EHIC or your card is stolen while travelling you should call the Overseas Healthcare Team at the Department of Health (+44 191 218 1999) in the UK to request a provisional replacement card (PRC).
- Free health advice is also available on the Dr Info portal [https://drinfo.aeek.hu/]. There is an English language version for non-Hungarian speakers and you’ll be able to search for the duty pharmacy in your area, contact details for a GP, and other useful information. Call-centre advice is also available 24/7 on (40) 374 636 as well as email enquiries, although at present these services are only provided in Hungarian.
Hospital care and GPs
Before seeking treatment from a GP make sure the surgery is contracted to the National Health Insurance Fund (OEP in Hungarian) and offers free consultations for EHIC holders. For anything other than emergency care, you will usually need to be referred by a local GP if you require hospital treatment in Hungary. Always confirm the GP is referring you to a state hospital if you want to receive free healthcare and be sure to take along your EHIC when you go to hospital. Under the terms of the EHIC, you can expect all procedures carried out in a state hospital including operations, x-rays, tests, asthma treatment, dialysis, pregnancy and childbirth, consultations and medicines to be free of charge. If at any time you need urgent medical care or are involved in an accident, you don’t need to obtain a referral first but should go to the accident and emergency department of the nearest state hospital.
Carry your EHIC with you at all times. Before receiving treatment, you may also be asked to present your passport or another form of ID. EHIC is required every time you receive treatment and the card should be presented to patient registration at the hospital, to the doctor, or at the GP surgery. In Hungary, you are likely to be refused free healthcare treatment without a valid card. If you’ve lost or misplaced your EHIC, you can still receive treatment with a Provisional Replacement Certificate (see below).
If you obtain hospital treatment without being referred by a primary healthcare provider such as a GP, you could have to pay up to a maximum of HUF 100,000 (accurate at the time of writing) for healthcare. This also applies if you opt to use a healthcare provider other than the one you are referred to by the GP. If your treatment involves a stay in hospital in Hungary, you can expect to be charged for any extra services you ask for such as a private room, special meals etc. Payments for any of the above services, or for seeing a private doctor are non-refundable.
Should you need to see a dentist during your time in Hungary, look for one registered with the Hungarian National Health Insurance Fund. You can check Dr Info ( see above) for more information or download a pdf at [Temporary stay in Hungary form]. Free dental care with EHIC can include:
- Emergency dental treatment
- Treatment related to oral or dental disease
- Temporary tooth preserving care
- Dental surgery
- Dental treatment for pregnant women
The cost of some materials used in your dental treatment may have to be paid for, so always check before agreeing to go ahead.
Travelling with a pre-existing health condition
Depending on your condition, a healthcare provider may decide whether or not the treatment for a pre-existing condition is strictly necessary during your temporary stay in Hungary or it can wait until your return to the UK. Of course, this does not apply to a medical emergency but in any case, if you do have a pre-existing condition it’s advisable to take out extra medical insurance before travelling. That way, you can travel with complete peace of mind.
Medicines for personal use and prescriptions
Taking medicine you have been proscribed in the UK to Hungary is not usually an issue although in some instances (for medicines where strict controls apply) you may need to take additional documentation including a copy of your prescription. Carry all medicines in their original packaging and for added security, carry some medicine as hand luggage as well as in checked-in baggage. See this factsheet [https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/factsheet/43/medicines-abroad] to find out more about travelling with medicine.
A UK prescription will not be accepted by a pharmacist in Hungary. If you are proscribed drugs by a GP or dentist in Hungary, you should present it at a local pharmacy (typically marked with a green cross) along with your EHIC. You may also be asked for ID. You can expect to pay a surcharge – or co-payment – for your prescription which is non-refundable in the UK.
Getting treatment without EHIC
As stated above, if you’ve lost your EHIC or the card is stolen, you can apply for a Provisional Replacement Certificate which will entitle you to the same level of cover as EHIC until you return to the UK or receive a new EHIC. When you apply, you’ll need to provide some personal details including your national insurance number, and an email address or fax number for the hospital department where you are being treated. Most healthcare providers in Hungary will accept a PRC up to 15 days after the treatment. If a PRC is presented later than this, or not at all, you will be invoiced for the treatment you receive. This is non-refundable in Hungary.
UK nationals working in Hungary
While you are living/working in Hungary you can access the same healthcare as Hungarian citizens by registering with the Országos Egészségbiztosítási Pénztár (OEP) and obtaining a national insurance number and card (TAJ kartya). Without this card, you’ll have to seek private healthcare which you must pay for. If you have relocated to Hungary for work or been sent there by your UK employer, you may be able to get UK-funded healthcare cover. See [https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-hungary] for more information.
UK students in Hungary
As a UK national studying in Hungary, you can use your EHIC (make sure it’s up to date and if about to expire renew before travelling) to access state healthcare services if required. You can also take out additional travel insurance to cover you during your time in Hungary.
Pensioners and healthcare in Hungary
While the UK remains a member state of the EU, you can receive your UK pension and any other exportable benefits while resident in Hungary. You should not use your UK-issued EHIC to access healthcare while living in Hungary but may be able to have any healthcare provided there paid for by the UK. To do so, you’ll need to have what’s known as an S1 certificate. The UK Government website [https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-hungary#pensions] provides guidance on applying for S1, receiving your exportable pension and other benefits as well as healthcare cover as a UK national living in Hungary.
What happens after Brexit?
The Hungarian government has pledged to protect existing healthcare rights for UK nationals who are legally resident in Hungary. This is a reciprocal agreement with the UK and means British nationals living in Hungary post-Brexit will continue to have free access to the same state healthcare as they do now. If you have lived in Hungary for over five years you can also apply for permanent residency and be issued with a national insurance card. This will entitle you to the same free healthcare benefits provided by the state regardless of any Brexit agreement. If you’ve lived in Hungary for less than five years continuously you may have to apply for a new visa and apply for residency in due course.
Travelling to Hungary after Brexit
Until a formal agreement is reached on Brexit, it’s impossible to say exactly how leaving the EU will affect the healthcare provision UK nationals can expect to receive while travelling in Hungary. It’s safe to assume the present arrangement is likely to change and any new arrangement will depend on a bilateral agreement being struck with Hungary or the EU as a whole. We’ll update this guide with the latest information about healthcare while living and/or travelling in Hungary as this becomes available. In the meantime, UK nationals should continue to carry a valid European Health Insurance Card at all times when travelling in Hungary.
For further information, see [https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/hungary/health].