Health care

Hungary

Country Report: Health care Last updated: 15/04/21

Author

Hungarian Helsinki Committee Visit Website

According to the Hungarian Health Act,[1] beneficiaries of international protection fall under the same category as Hungarian nationals. Although for 6 months after refugees and persons with subsidiary protection are granted status, they are entitled to health services under the same conditions as asylum seekers. Therefore, the asylum authority funds the health care expenses of the beneficiaries for 6 months, if they are in need and cannot establish other health insurance format. However, as per the Menedék Association’s experience, in practice this is not accepted by the health care service providers. The Evangelical Lutheran Church reported such difficulties in 2020 in case of a mother obtaining international protection and with another person with subsidiary protection. As per the Menedék Association in order to tackle these difficulties, the asylum authority in the reception centres files the request for the health insurance card on the basis of destitution. However, this takes quite a long time. Since 2018 the card (unlike earlier) is delivered by post which makes it even longer than receiving it in person thus extends the duration of the procedure and delays the start of the employment. As per the Evangelical Lutheran Church, since the issuance of the health insurance card lasts too long, it is not even requested immediately upon the granting of the status in Vámosszabadi but only after the person establishes a domicile out of the reception facility. The obtainment of the health insurance card is further hindered by the difficulties arising with regard to the issuance of the identification and address card (see section above on Residence permit) as without those the application for the health insurance card cannot be initiated.

The recent amendments of the Social Insurance Act have unfavourable effect on those beneficiaries of international protection who left the country and later on they are returned by another EU Member State. According to the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the health insurance eligibility of these people is terminated upon their departure. Consequently, if they are returned with poor health conditions necessitating immediate medical intervention, the costs of that are later on billed to the patient. For instance, in 2020 even though a returned person with subsidiary protection managed to arrange his health insurance in December the system officially still denied access to health care services. Thanks to the humane treatment of the health care staff he was provided with necessary chemotherapy.

In practice, similarly to asylum seekers, beneficiaries of international protection face significant barriers regarding access to health care. Barriers mainly stem from language difficulties, i.e. the lack of interpreters or the lack of basic English spoken by the doctor. NGOs’ assistance is the only available solution for that. The obstacles, furthermore, might stem from administrative difficulties or simply from the lack of law awareness. According to a research from 2017, which is based on interviews carried out with 18 refugees and 4 social workers, refugees generally feel marginalised regarding the healthcare system.[2] The research highlights the importance of social workers and volunteers who “act as links between health care system and refugees” helping with interpretation and as an information point for the health care institute’s personnel. Based on the information received from the contacted organisations, the findings of the research were still valid in 2020. According to the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Menedék Association, the health care for people living in one of the homeless shelters of the Baptist Integration Centre was arbitrarily denied by the competent practitioner. As a consequence, a refugee resident was not provided health care despite of having serious symptoms. Due to his sickness, he could not work which led to the loss of his job. Meanwhile, lacking the medical proof of being sick he could not benefit from the state aid either.

Not only adult refugees but also unaccompanied children with international protection face the same difficulties explained above. The Menedék Association reported that the competent health care institution was postponing the dental treatment of an unaccompanied child living in Fót in 2020.

There was no beneficiary of international protection residing in reception facility infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus in 2020.[3] According to the vaccination strategy,[4] Hungarian citizens (above the age of 18) in the possession of a valid health insurance card are eligible for the vaccine. Since beneficiaries of international protection fall under the same category as Hungarian nationals regarding health care provisions (as indicated above), the priority order applies to them in the same manner as to Hungarian citizens. The website for the registration to get vaccinated is only available in Hungarian though. [5]

 

 

 

[1]        Section 3(s) Act CLIV of 1997 on Health Care.

[2]        Mangeni Akileo, Marginalization of refugees and asylum seekers in the healthcare system: A Hungarian case study, Central European University, 2017.

[3]        Information provided by the NDGAP on 2 March 2021.

[4]        Available only in Hungarian: https://www.nnk.gov.hu/index.php/koronavirus-tajekoztato/932-a-covid-19-vedooltasra-jelentkezesi-hely-az-egeszsegugyi-es-egeszsegugyben-dolgozok-szamara

[5]        See https://vakcinainfo.gov.hu/regisztracio-oltasra.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation